ARCOLA (WCIA) — Every time Diego Perez steps on the field, he takes his older brother’s memory with him.
“Right before every game I take a minute for myself and I give a little prayer and I just tell him that anything I do on the field is in his name and his memory,” Perez said.
Alejandro Perez died of an asthma attack when Diego was just eight years old. The brothers were two years apart in age, so Diego looked up to Alejandro in everything he ddi, including athletics. Life without his brother has been difficult for Diego but he’s made it through in large part by playing sports.
“It was very hard growing up without him but the way I look at it, I have two options,” Perez said. “I could either let it impact me in a negative way and put me in a really dark place in my life, or I could take it in a positive way and allow it to motivate me. To wake up every single day and to be the best version of myself in whatever I do.”
And what Perez has done is help the Purple Riders win their last four games to make them playoff eligible. On offense Perez has scored three touchdowns as a receiver, on the other side of the ball he’s a staple in the defensive backfield as Arcola has only allowed one touchdown or less in four of its six games.
“Diego’s one of those kids that you just love to be around,” Arcola head coach Nick Lindsey said. “He’s always got a smile on his face, always happy. He’s a heck of a player, athletic, fast, has great hands but on top of all that, he’s a great kid too.”
Arcola will need Perez against Argenta-Oreana in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. Both teams come in with a 3-0 mark in the Little Okaw Valley Northwest Conference.
“What happens to you doesn’t define you,” Perez said. “It’s how you react and I feel like I reacted to my situation in a really good way and winning this Friday would mean absolutely everything.”