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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 22, 2013
HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM: The last ride

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Daniel Vega (32) and Logan Santel (59) celebrate their team's win over Bettendorf in the Class 4A semifinals last week at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Vega writes about his experience as a Saint. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Editor’s note: Here is your chance to tell your story about your team, your school or your favorite player. If you’d like to join The Gazette’s growing list of high school contributors, contact J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

By Daniel Vega, Xavier senior

CEDAR RAPIDS — I got my first real taste of Xavier football on Nov. 16, 2006.

I was a water boy for the team because my brother was one of the captains. That year marked the first time Xavier had made an impact on the largest class in Iowa, winning the Class 4A state championship.

Daniel Vega

As a fifth-grader, I saw firsthand from the sidelines what hard work and dedication could get you.

In eighth grade, I had an important decision to make. I had to choose which high school I would attend. My parents wanted me to go to Kennedy because my sister enjoyed the school so much. I had my mind set on filling the shoes my brother left for me at Xavier.

I picked Xavier because I witnessed something great that Friday night in 2006. I knew I wanted to put on the navy and white jerseys and strap up that silver helmet every Friday night with the guys I grew up with.

I believed we would have a chance do to great things.

Being a part of the Xavier football brotherhood is something special. All who have played for Coach Duane Schulte can say Saints football is an experience of a lifetime. There is something special about running up the gravel path every day for practice and getting after it in preparation for the opponent to come.

Last year was a huge wake-up call for everyone on our team. Bouncing back from a 5-5 record with a state championship appearance was something no one expected — except us. The seniors last year were great leaders and role models for us. I am forever grateful for those guys we had the opportunity to play with in 2012. They will never know how much we all appreciated their leadership.

Going back to the UNI-Dome two years in a row is a pretty impressive feat. A team cannot achieve that unless it works hard and has great coaching. This past year has been nothing but hard work for everyone who participated in the gut-twisting loss to Ankeny in last year’s state championship.

When the clock of the championship game hit zero last year, my heart dropped. It felt like I just had a nightmare. Seeing someone hoist the trophy my teammates and I had been dreaming about for the longest time was crushing.

The motivation we took from that night was determination to be back in the hunt for the 2013 season. We came this far last year and we could not finish the job.

This year is different. The mentality is different. It is my last game. Our seniors’ last game. With the support of our parents, students, fans, and coaches this game will be one to remember

Author J.K. Rowling summed it up best.

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

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