Joaquin Vasquez

Our Lady of the Hills’ Joaquin Vasquez attempts a jumper against San Antonio Lee on Tuesday.

Joaquin Vasquez continually inspected his phone during his first hunting trip.

Truthfully, he found the entire activity to be a little boring. But that shouldn’t be too surprising. He’s still a city boy at heart.

Originally from Mexico City, Vasquez began attending Our Lady of the Hills Regional Catholic School in the fall, participating in the school’s foreign exchange student program. About a month ago, OLH senior Travis Reeh decided it was time to immerse his new peer into Hill Country culture, so he and Vasquez embarked on a hunting trip on Reeh’s uncle’s property in Fredericksburg.

Reeh had a blast that day. Vasquez, however, gave a different account of the experience.

“It was kind of weird,” Vasquez said. “You need a lot of patience for hunting.”

“I don’t think hunting is right up Joaquin’s alley,” added Reeh, laughing.

Indeed. But even though Vasquez hasn’t quite embraced hunting, he still hasn’t had many issues acclimating to his new home. The difference between Mexico City and Kerrville might as well be the same as the difference between Jupiter and Pluto. Vasquez, though, decided to take an optimistic approach to the seismic culture change.

“There are a lot of the activities you get to do here that you can’t do in Mexico City, and there are things you can’t do here that you can do in Mexico City,” Vasquez said. “If you want to buy something here you have to drive all the way to San Antonio. But, we still have a movie theater here.”

And most importantly: Kerrville has basketball. Vasquez moved to the United States to play high school basketball. OLH has granted him the opportunity to do just that. Standing at 6-foot, 5-inches, Vasquez can play all five positions on the floor and can use his long wingspan to alter opposing teams’ shots. Naturally, everyone in OLH’s program rejoiced when TAPPS cleared him to play this season. So far, he’s delivered on all the hype, averaging 16.5 points per game and six rebounds per contest. His basketball talent has the Hawks (4-4) positioned to seriously challenge for another state title.

“I think he has adjusted real well,” said Heritage coach Clarence Stewart, who is currently hosting Vasquez at his house after introducing him to OLH athletic director Chris Ramirez during the summer. “He has made a lot of friends here in Fredericksburg, Ingram and around the county. He’s just a really likable kid.

“He’s definitely going to help (OLH). I know Travis Reeh is still their No.1 option. But he’s probably Robin to Travis’ Batman,” Stewart continued. “He comes from a great home. His mom and dad gave him a good upbringing.

He’s brought that hard-working mentality here to Texas.

Vasquez does come from an impressive pedigree. His father, Juan Vazquez, designs security programs for banks in Mexico City. His mother, Teresa Contreras, teaches architecture at UNAM, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Vasquez communicates with his parents over FaceTimes three times a week. He misses them and Mexico City dearly. After all, he spent the majority of his life playing pickup basketball games in Mexico City.

A series of lucky coincidences led him to OLH. His basketball coach in Mexico — Miguel Baez — played basketball at Incarnate Word with Mark Reed. Baez then recommended Reed’s Strength N Motion International Academy, a basketball program in San Antonio designed to strengthen young basketball players’ skills.

While attending one of Strength N Motion’s summer clinics, Vasquez decided he wanted to play high school basketball in the states. This was also where he met coach Stewart. Stewart was impressed with Vasquez’s athletic ability and wanted him to play on his team at Heritage, but was unable to get him enrolled in the school. That’s when he recommended him to his friend Ramirez.

In the meantime, Vasquez returned to Mexico City in early July. Later in the month, he received the news that he had been accepted to OLH. But there was even better news: He was

also approved to play basketball.

He quickly ingratiated himself to his teammates. He may not like hunting, but he loves listening to music with his teammates. He played NBA 2K with Reeh and he often enjoys steak dinners at teammate William Westfall’s house.

And he’s hoping to help those teammates contend for another state title.

“(He and his teammates) have gotten along very well since the start of the school year,” Ramirez said. “It was good that he had time in the fall to get used to being in school here in the United States and that he got to know his teammates and his schoolmates before he started basketball.

“Thankfully for us, (he and his parents) made a decision to attend OLH … He’s definitely been great addition to our team.”

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