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As The Mower Guy

Say what again Matt Najera? By Don EskinsIt's not uncommon for a high school athlete, who has just signed a letter of intent to attend college on an athletic scholarship, to hurl accolades of appreciation towards his coach.After all the two have undoubtedly spent a countless number of hours together and shared both the highs and lows of his prep career. Over the past half century,I've heard many of those accolades as prepsters point out just how important their coaches were in grooming them to compete at the next level. And more than likely so have you.From, "He made me work really hard," to "He put discipline into my life," and to "He's made me a better person," I've pretty much heard them all. Well I thought I had anyway. However,this weekend I heard one that I'd never heard before. One that was quite unexpected.While talking to Matthew Najera, about his signing a letter of intent to attend college and wrestle at Ottawa University next year, I asked him who were some of the people who had helped him achieve such an honor.One of those people, was,of course, Caveman head coach Joe Baca. But just how Najera said the Cavemen coach helped him was quite a surprise."Coach always pushes us on the mat to get better," said Najera. "But he also keeps up with our grades. He's always telling us that we that need to work hard in the classroom and to keep our grades up.""I had a really good season last year (15-1) and my grades are up," he said. "So when Ottawa offered me a scholarship this fall to wrestle for them next year, I was good to go."'I don't think I've ever heard an athlete thank a coach for checking on his grades or for making sure he was working as hard in the classroom as he was in the gym.Najera's comments affirmed what Coach Baca had said earlier in the day."It's one of the cool things about sports," said the Caveman coach. "Athletics, with some effort in the classroom, can help a kid get a college education."

Keep up the good work coach, sounds like your kids are listening.

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