These seniors ran cross country and football respectively for SJ High School this fall
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
It doesn’t matter where your personal finish line is, what counts is moving in that direction each day.
For San Jacinto High School seniors Kimberly Lopez Alvarez and Benny Helms, high school is merely their starting line.
Lopez Alvarez ran cross country for the Tigers this fall, and was nominated to our MVP Spotlight by her head coach, Kendra Medore.
“Kim has been our number one girl for all four years of high school. She was first team all league this year by placing 2nd at league finals,” said Medore. “She has also been our captain for three years. I cannot think of an athlete that is more deserving. She pours her heart into running.”
Lopez Alvarez says she got into running to overcome her own shortcomings.
“I began running because I go lost when I began to run,” said Lopez Alvarez. “It was a challenge I wanted to keep defeating. Also, the team every year felt more and more like a family.”
Like many a nominee to our MVP spotlight, Kimberly wasn’t expecting this.
“I have fun at what I do and to be rewarded for something I enjoy reminds me why I should continue doing what I love,” she added. “I am super thankful for this opportunity.”
And Medore is thankful for Lopez Alvarez overcoming a personal defeat. “Last year Kim was [disqualified] at league finals (where she would have been first team all league and taken 3rd) and in the Spring and Summer she was not even sure she wanted to come out for cross country,” explained Medore. “She began the season being ranked 3rd with a team of young girls who didn’t have a real direction. She rallied the team and focused on the team making it to CIF. She cheered them on and led them to a 2nd place as a team. She took 2nd place as an individual beating out a girl who was ranked above her. She overcame her own doubts of herself and proved to all in league she is someone who will not settle. I was also very touched to see her support her younger sister who was our 7th girl at CIF. Kim finished her race and went running back to find her sister and cheer her on.”
Lopez Alvarez is also grateful for the support her parents and older sister gave her in getting to this point. She is currently deciding between UC Irvine and UC San Diego.
“God has a plan for me and I’ve still yet to decide whether competing at the next level will be part of my life,” said Lopez Alvarez. “But of course I plan to continue running.”
Helms helped the Tigers keep the coveted football victory bell for a fourth year running, and was nominated by head football coach Aric Galliano.
“Benny has done whatever is asked of him,” said Galliano. “[He] has stepped up tremendously and became a leader and captain.”
Helms says playing football, and running track and field in the spring, helps him deal with life in general. “Sports is something I’ve always enjoyed throughout my life,” he said. “I love everything and every aspect sports has brought into my life. It taught me how you can’t give up when things get rough and many other aspects in life that I am going to need. Sports has always been my greatest stress reliever and still continues to get me through any problems I’ve ever faced.”
Some of Helms’ favorite moments included competition from outside the valley.
“When the defense was able to shut out Temecula Valley even though they were in the red zone numerous times, and when we came out on top of Beaumont in the nail biting game to solidify our spot in the playoffs,” he recalled. “Throughout my life I was always fortunate enough to have great coaches, although there was some that did doubt me because of my size, they had enough faith in me to give me a chance and frankly that’s all I needed. But no matter what my family has always been my biggest supporters in whatever it was I decided to do, even though my mom hated it when I got hit hard.”
Helms says being nominated for our spotlight in itself is a great honor, and Galliano is honored to have him on the team, through thick and thin.
“During the summer when things were not going his way and having a hard time, he listened to his coaches and stuck with it and became a great contributor and leader,” commented Galliano. “Benny will be successful in all that he does. He has the drive to do great things and will accomplish anything he puts his mind to.”
Right now, Helms is trying to figure out what to put his mind to after high school, whether it be attending University in Arizona or California, or playing community college football. He does want to continue playing football, that’s for sure!
As for those who will follow in their footsteps, our nominees have this to say:
“I hope they enjoy every moment of it as it flies by,” said Lopez Alvarez. “Also to build a stronger mindset with each race and practice. I wish nothing but the best for them and of course to hydrate! I will be back to learn from them as well.”
“Take advantage of every little aspect this program has to offer, and no matter what enjoy it as much as you can because you may not realize it but time flies,” warns Helms. “Also remember that although high school has its stressful times, live life and have fun doing whatever it is you do.”
Congratulations to our Tiger MVPs!
Do you have a student athlete to nominate for our MVP Spotlight? Corey Evan can be reached at 760-270-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.