During the Our Lady of the Hills’ lunch period on Tuesday, senior Joaquin Vazquez walked toward the podium and began addressing the student body.
He’s only attended OLH for a year, but this year has been a blast. Originally from Mexico City, Vazquez quickly acclimated to his new home in the Hill Country, made new friends, and helped the Hawks’ basketball team capture the TAPPS Class 3A state title.
He also received a full athletic scholarship from Tecnologico de Monterrey, a Private university in Monterrey, Mexico. On Tuesday, he signed his LOI in front of OLH student body. His host parents — Stephanie and Clarence Stewart — celebrated the occasion by delivering cake to Vazquez’s friends. After he signed, Vazquez delivered a speech to his peers, expressing his appreciation for his experiences at OLH.
“He made a tremendous impact on the school, just being a student here,” OLH athletic director Chris Ramirez said. “Everyone really enjoys having him here and getting to know him. He’s just been really great across the board — as a student, as an athlete. He’s made several friends.
“Joaquin is the kind of kid who is always in a great mood. He always has a smile on his face. He’s always upbeat and appreciative. … He was a gift to us. Ultimately, he was a big difference maker in our success for the entire season.”
Indeed. Vazquez terrorized opponents in the post, nearly averaging a double-double (12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game) to earn first team all-state honors. His ability to snag offensive rebounds led to countless second-chance scoring opportunities for the Hawks. He also often attracted double-teams, opening opportunities for his teammates.
As a result, he helped the Hawks pile up one win after another, eventually propelling them to a 50-47 win over Midland Classical in the state championship game on March 1.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded that day, Vazquez sprinted to embrace his OLH teammates.
“That was the best moment of my life,” Vazquez said. “This season has given me new friends and brothers for the rest of my life.”
And he hopes that this season serves as a springboard to a long and successful basketball career. He’s still relatively new to playing organized basketball; he hasn’t even come close to realizing his potential.
“His ceiling is so high,” Ramirez said. “His best basketball is ahead of him. He is going to play at the collegiate level, where he will have specific coaching for his position. He is going to get stronger and start to mature more as well. It’s like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get. I am excited to see where he is at a year from now."