By Moses Kucera
Over the summer, the Baja Sharks American football team went to Regina, Canada to compete in an international tournament. Three teams participated on behalf of Baja California Sur state, representing the Under 15, U13, and U11 categories.
Although each team fought three grueling games, only the U15 team managed to win the tournament for their division, with a final score of 14-9 against the Saskatchewan All-Stars, part of a 3-0 win streak. After the games, the U15 team went on to the training camp, which was hosted by the Regina University football coaches.
“The kids are trying harder, we’re getting more exposure going to these tournaments, which never happened before until last year,” said Defensive Coordinator Michael Mathis.
The Baja Sharks have had very successful competitive seasons in recent memory. Back in September of 2018, they competed in a national tournament in Chihuahua, and then another national tournament in December of the same year in Monterrey, in which they won the national title. In February of 2019 the team went international with a tournament in Texas.
Ultimately, their recent success has opened the doors to further opportunities, including this past summer’s competition and camp in Canada.
This leaves us with the question of how? How did this second rate team go from winning one game per tournament to 1st place in 3 months?
After a horrid defeat in Chihuahua, the players got together, created stronger bonds and cooperation.
“It was more than just football, it was family,” said Nicholas Chorny, defensive end on the U15 team and 10th-grade student at El Camino.
With this resurrected team they started working and elevated their game to a whole new level.
Of course, challenges still remained. The physical difference between
Mexican and foreign teams is one. When asked how big the difference was, Coach Michael responded with “The U11 were as big as me, and im 5´10”´which was taller than some of our U15 players.”
However both Michael and Nicholas said they won with speed, smarts, and most importantly with fight.
“Mexicans have the biggest fight, even the 11 year old never gave up the fight,” said coach Mathis.
All of this begs the question: What’s next?
In December U11, U13, and U17 will be playing another tournament in Monterrey, while the U15 will be playing in Mérdia, Yucatán, at the federal tournament.
The Cabo football community will be proudly hosting its first international tournament in February 2020, with teams coming in from the US, Canada, and even Panama.
An international tournament is an astronomical feat for Cabo, as Latin American countries seldom participate in American football competitions at this level.
Sadly, the original U15 team that won in Texas, Canada, and Monterrey will change due to the age of most of the players. Most of them will be going on to play in the U17 division, with the rest continuing to defend the U15 for another year.
Among those that are leaving and those who stay, it is described as nothing less than a brotherhood being torn.
Moses Kucera is a 10th grade student at El Camino and linebacker/tight end for the Baja Sharks and the Lobos Marinos.