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Ramon Altamirano is the head football coach at South East High School in South Gate, California.

Dear struggling student athlete,

I am here to tell you that you make it out of whatever rut you’re in, that you deliver on your promise to fight and that you do matter to someone.

You love to be pessimistic about your optimism, that maybe if you get too happy about a success, that it will somehow affect the current path you are on. I am here to tell you that, it does matter that you get excited about your little successes. It matters only because, as Dr. King once said, only light can drive away darkness.

The more you focus on what you are doing right, however little it may feel like you are doing right, the more you are able to fight off your misconceptions.

If I were to tell you that you help children out of a rut and provide new meaning to their life, that would not be enough to satisfy your hunger right now. It would not be enough to tell you that promising your father a college degree is something that you follow through on, even when you could not bring yourself to think that when you did not walk the stage at your middle school graduation.

Those sleepless nights, long work days and hunger filled days are worth it, not because they add any more monetary worth to anything you own now, but because they give your dreams and life meaning to fight.

Trust me when I tell you that every storm passes, however long it lasts. Then, we are left to build and prepare for the next storm, all the while admiring what we are blessed to have now. That does not mean you settle, no sir, never settle, because settling means you are not reaching your full potential. You may be struggling right now, but I’m telling you that it does not stay that way.

A little insight into your future: you matter, to a lot of people. This sense of belonging and meaning drives you. You shape lives, and will continue to shape lives. All those cheesy lines you heard and attempted to forget actually help you now. As Timo Cruz said, your fear is being inadequate, but that could not be farther from the truth.

You are made of steel and although steel can be broken, it takes immense force and heat, everything else just bends you. Be the person you want your future generations to remember, and remember, you matter.


The person holding an umbrella during your storm

-- Ramon Altamirano, RSP/SDC teacher at Southeast Middle School and South East head football coach