Century's Adrian Rodriguez, working his way to the top
Century's Adrian Rodriguez was a standout player on the football field last fall. He was the same on the wrestling mat, earning second place honors in each of the last two years at State. And on the track this spring you can see him running sprints, clearing hurdles, or throwing the shot put or discus, and all at a very high level. But what you can see, you likely won't hear, because A-Rod — as he's known to friends and coaches — leads not with his mouth, but by the example of hard work and the type of discipline that will ultimately translate to similar success off the playing field.
"He's one of those kids that 20 years from now I'll have nothing but good things to say about," said Century head football coach Sean McMenomy. "You're not going to get a kid that plays and works harder than A-Rod."
A gifted athlete, Rodriguez picked up sports as a kid, spending his free time at the Hillsboro Boys and Girls Club playing soccer, basketball, or anything else they offered at the 3rd Avenue location. By his own admission, he initially got involved with sports simply as a way to have fun, but as he got older he used them as a means to learning and applying discipline in school and life in general.
"They've taught me so many things and surrounded me with so many good people," said Rodriguez. "I really owe a lot to sports."
And he's paid them back. Not monetarily, but via the type of commitment that shows respect to the coaches, games and manner in which they're to be played.
"He's truly a special kid," McMenomy said. "He's one of those guys you don't have to tell him twice to do something, works his tail off and leads by example. He leaves everything out there."
Since arriving at Century High School three years ago, Rodriguez has earned all-league honors once in football, three times in wrestling, and made it to three state finals in track, including a third and a second in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles in 2016 as a sophomore. His second place finishes in the last two state wrestling championships came after just two and three years in the sport, and his work on the gridiron last season prompted his defensive coordinator, Adam Reese, to label him the best defensive end in the Metro League. Something the former Hilhi head coach doesn't take lightly.
"I honestly believe he was the best defensive end in the Metro League, but with our record and him being undersized he didn't get all the credit he deserved," said Reese. "He took over a few games, which is tough to do at his position considering his responsibilities, and against the type of athlete the Metro League provides."
"He was the most pleasant athletic surprise coming over to Century," Reese said. "He's just a pure athlete. I've coached some pretty good athletes coming over from Hillsboro, like Colt Lyerla, and kids who have worked themselves into success, but he's one of those kids that had and did both."
Reese also helped coach Rodriguez on the mat, where he spoke glowingly of the senior's knack for the sport, speaking to his balance and uncanny maneuverability as nearly freakish for someone so raw in the sport.
"If he would've had more time in wrestling he'd have won a state championship for sure," said Reese. "His technique just needs to catch up to his ability."
Rodriguez attributes much of who he is today to sports in general, but wrestling holds a special place in his heart due primarily to what it's taught him along the way.
"All of the sports have taught me so much, but wrestling has probably made me who I am today," Rodriguez said. "It taught me to not give up and continue to work towards being better."
It also introduced him to Jaguar head wrestling coach Guy Takahashi, who Rodriguez credits abuntantly for his success. He works out every morning at 6:30 A.M. with he and other coaches, and attributes much of his work ethic and discipline to the lessons taught by Takahashi, and appreciates wholeheartedly what the coach has done for him not just in the competitive arena, but as he goes forward in life.
"Takahashi has taught me everything," said an emphatic Rodriguez. "It's difficult to explain, but he's taught me how to be stronger mentally and disciplined on the mat, in the classroom, and in life. Nothing is given to you, you have to work at it."
It's Rodriguez' adoration for Takahashi, as well as his other coaches, that motivate him to do well and due to such, made losing in his wrestling final that much more difficult to swallow.
"Finishing second in wrestling, it was tough to handle, but while I wanted to win it, I really wanted to win more for the people who helped me get there," Rodriguez said. "I felt like I let them down more than myself."
And the respect goes both ways. Takahashi raves about Rodriguez and considers him as an example of how they expect things to be done at Century. He says they always speak to their wrestling team about being mentally tough, and A-Rod is exactly what they mean when they talk about mental toughness.
"He's one of the toughest mental and physical wrestlers I have had the opportunity to coach," said Takahashi. "He works out every morning with me and never has an excuse or misses regardless of being sick or competing in one of his three sports."
Now, as Rodriguez' time at Century winds to a close, the senior is looking at options beyond high school. He says he's ready to get out of Hillsboro for a while and has an opportunity to wrestle for Umpqua Community College tuition free, and with various scholarships to cover the bulk of his living expenses has an even greater opportunity to study education, something he says interests him.
"I would love to get into the education field, and maybe become a physical education teacher and coach."
Regardless of what he chooses to do from here, what he's done at Century won't soon be forgotten. His accomplishments, his discipline and his work ethic have left a mark, but you'll never hear it from him, so we'll let his coach do it for him.
"Our motto is we don't take days off period, and he is truly an example of that," Takahashi said. "I am proud of everything he has done and the great man he has become."