Century's Rodriguez makes his choice
Time has a way of changing things. And it did just that for Century's Adrian Rodriguez, who signed his letter of intent Monday, June 11, to attend and wrestle at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay.
Rodriguez — or A-Rod, as most call him — is a two-time state wrestling runner-up. He had previously considered wrestling and attending Umpqua Community College. But after a trip to the campus, some time with the coaches, and a conversation with a friend who just finished his first year in Coos Bay, the recent graduate knew without question where he should be.
"The coach seemed to want me more, I have a teammate on the team and it just seemed like a better option," said Rodriguez. "It just had a better vibe and just felt right."
Rodriguez has spent his last three years at Century making believers out of his parents, teachers and coaches, most notably head Jaguar wrestling coach Guy Takahashi.
"A-Rod is the hardest-working, most relentless and tough kid I've ever coached," said the coach. "He's so mentally solid. He never gets down and is always ready to compete."
"Tak," as Rodriguez and others call him, saw a different version of Rodriguez when he first showed up at Century. As a freshman, Takahashi referred to him as being "hidden in the shadows," quiet, soft-spoken, and not mentally ready to accept and challenge himself. But by his sophomore season, the coach asked Rodriguez if he was ready to dedicate himself and Rodriguez emphatically accepted, applying himself and ultimately making it to the district final.
"I didn't even let him challenge for varsity until near the end of that year, because the guy in front of him was a senior and I still needed A-Rod to develop mentally," Takahashi said. "But he went to the finals at district and the light just went on for him."
Rodriguez's ability to succeed is something his parents, Rosie and Javier Rojas, saw both in their son and the ability of the coach who was making it all happen.
"Coach Takahashi has meant the world to him," said his mother. "He admires him so much."
"It's been great to see him compete, but also to see him doing his homework and being very enthusiastic about sports and school," Javier Rojas added. "Coach Takahashi mentors him both on and off the field."
And the admiration goes both ways, as the coach is quick to acknowledge Rodriguez's parents' work in raising such a quality young man.
"His parents did a good job teaching him it's not about the individual," Takahashi said. "He was brought up the right way."
Now, it's off to college for Rodriguez, where he hopes his time there will lead to a bigger opportunity down the road. He'd like to wrestle after SWOCC, and beyond that, become a teacher and coach like his mentor at Century.
"It'd be great to be able to wrestle at a bigger school down the road," Rodriguez said. "I'd also love to be a teacher, and mentor other kids like my coaches and teachers have done for me."
And how does the now-graduate and soon-to-be college freshman sum up his time at Century?
"Tak pushed me to realize what I could be and showed me that if I worked hard good things will happen," Rodriguez said. "So I tried, and good things have happened."