■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
There may not be an “I” in “team,” but this reporter can verify that each player makes up an important part of that team, nonetheless. The strongest contributions stand on their own, and stand for something more. In this case, the contributions of seniors Esmeralda Correa and Josh Hardiman stand tall and proud for Tahquitz High School.
Correa, our soccer star, has played for the Titans since her sophomore year and was nominated to our MVP Spotlight by her coach, April Codero. “She was my sweeper,” said Codero. “She was a big impact on our team. This year we had a very young team; with her being Captain she guided the young girls to know what a team is. We went from losing the first half of the season to winning at the end.”
This year, the lady Titans had a record of 8-12-4 and came fourth in Mountain Pass League play, but made it to round two of the playoffs before being felled by Riverside’s Patriot High.
Correa says injuries were her biggest obstacle this season—that and captaining a younger team.
She is involved in the Tahquitz MCJROTC and has enlisted with the Marine Corps as of December 2017, anticipating active duty in September after she graduates. “My inspirations are my ROTC instructors,” said Correa. “They have helped me and motivated me to become a better person.”
Correa thanks her coaches and her mother for helping her through this season and helping her manage the stress of often-conflicting schedules.
As for future military experience, Coach Codero has high hopes for the soccer star. “If she has as much confidence in herself as we did as coaches, she will go far in life,” added Codero. “She has grown into a great young lady, on and off the field. She plays till the end and doesn’t give up and that’s not a quality you can find in kids this day and age.”
Our basketball star Josh Hardiman was picked for our spotlight by his coach, Brad Smith.
Hardiman has been playing basketball for Tahquitz for all four of his years as a Titan, and says this year’s biggest issue was having a largely new team. “I feel like our biggest challenge was the team getting used to each other, especially nine new players coming in,” he explained. “It was all of us getting together, and getting the chemistry right for the season.”
This season, the Titans had a 15-10 season record and placed third in league, but made round one of playoffs. Hardiman is certainly happy to have made it that far.
He hopes to continue playing basketball in college, but is not committed to any program at the moment. Perhaps he too will play for the Eagles at Mt. San Jacinto? Only time will tell. Otherwise, he wants to one day become a registered nurse.
Hardiman wishes to thank his mom and the rest of his family for backing him in his efforts, as well as all his coaches.
“I picked Josh because he did a little bit of everything on the floor and was a leader in practice also,” said Josh’s coach Bradley Smith. “He was the hardest working player on the team also. We ran our entire offense through him this year so he was the obvious key to our success.”
From playing for the team to fighting for those they care about, Correa and Hardiman certainly have much to look forward to. We at the Valley Chronicle wish them luck in their endeavors and pray that Correa serves faithfully and comes home safe and sound.
Do you have a student athlete to nominate for our MVP Spotlight? If so, Corey Evan can be reached at 760-270-5625 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.