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Immersion is the only way for Raya

Immersion is the only way for Raya

After coming back to the states at age 12, Lucas Raya learns English and becomes a starter for the Spartans

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – Immersion has become a way of life for Strathmore’s nose guard Lucas Raya. Since moving in permanently with his father, Larry Raya, he has learned everything from English to the game of football.

“You have to treat both the same way,” said Raya. “In football, just like English, you can never take a day off.”

Lucas Raya, senior at Strathmore High School

Lucas Raya, senior at Strathmore High School

Born at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia, Raya’s mother took him to Mexico at six months to visit family. It was during that visit the family decided to stay in Mexico. Five years later Raya meet his biological father for the first time.

“When you are that age you really don’t understand a whole lot but I do remember it being a shock,” said Raya.

After going back and forth on visits Raya finally decided to stay with his father, who lived in Turlock at the time. Currently in the seventh grade Raya was at a disadvantage now, he knew little to no English. While attending Mt. View Middle School he was enrolled into a special class that used the language learning software Rosetta Stone.

For the first couple weeks Raya focused on just learning simple words, and being able to identify objects those words represented. However, one crucial thing helped Raya develop even more. His father only spoke English in the home

“I would have to try and explain things to him,” Raya said. “Yeah, it was difficult at first but caught on a lot faster.”

As Raya’s abilities with the new language continued to improve something else began to draw his attention, the game of football. Raya and his father began to play catch in the yard after school. As a result, Raya began to become more and more immersed into the sport of football.

At first, he wanted to be a quarterback. However, once Raya’s arm got tired his father suggest lineman. So, they set up an area where Raya could start lifting weights. Not fully understanding what he was doing he kept to some simple bench and curl lifts before moving on to squatting. But no matter the lift he kept to his saying, “never quit.”

Shortly after graduating from the eighth grade Raya and his father moved to Strathmore. It was at a firework booth in the parking lot of Spartan Stadium that Raya met the man that would turn him into a true football player. But Raya’s first interest was to be a thrower for the track team

“We are going to make you a football player,” said Strathmore head coach Jeromy Blackwell.

Raya’s strength was evident from day one. Which was a reason that Blackwell placed him at nose guard. But it was his attention to detail that really stood out. With the game turning digital all the Spartan players can view film at any time via their Huddle program. And it is not only of himself but of his opponents as well.

“If you log all my players hours, I’d bet there is no one who watches more than him,” Blackwell said.

Raya’s high school career has been extended one week as the Spartans have a rematch with St. Vincent-St. Patrick with a Northern California Regional Championship this Friday. Afterwards him and three other players look to play for College of the Sequoias. Raya plans on to continue his playing career to a four-year while he gets a degree in agriculture business.

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