YAKIMA, Wash. -- Sergio Reyna has plenty of game-day rituals.
The East Valley senior running back and linebacker always wears the same socks and shoes to school on game-day Fridays. He always starts out the day with an apple in the morning and drinks cranberry juice throughout the day. He listens to the same songs in his earphones all day — “They’re super girly,” he admits with a laugh. “My teammates hear it and make fun of me, messing with me.”
And before heading to the game, he and his buddies always go to Subway, where Reyna always orders a BLT with onions. Then, before the game, he prays for a minute and thinks about the lessons his father has taught him.
His practice-day ritual is much more basic. He simply works so hard on the field that, by the time practice ends, he is quite literally on the field.
“At the end of practice it’s not uncommon for him to be laying on the ground, just totally exhausted,” says Reyna’s head coach, Mark Mochel. “I don’t think there’s a kid who works as hard as he does.
“He’s just an amazing kid.”
That work ethic goes far beyond football. Reyna has a grade-point average in the 3.95 range, his otherwise-straight-A record sullied only by four A-minuses and, in an honors English class, one B-plus.
But here’s the kicker: The hardest-working guy on the East Valley football team wasn’t always that way.
“When I was little, I used to be very lazy,” says Reyna, the son of a family of achievers, a father in law enforcement and a mother in the medical field. “My dad always told me if you want anything, you have to work for it. I love football and I know I want to be better, and I know if I push myself I get better. If I slack off ... well, I just can’t have that.
“And being one of the older guys, I want to be a role model to them.”
Reyna has experience with that. While his nuclear family isn’t particularly large — parents and a couple of younger sisters — his extended family extends into the dozens.
“I have cousins that are just way too many to count,” says Reyna, who actually has counted them. “I think it’s 69 now. I have a bunch of little cousins and being around them is fun; I play with them all the time. I want to be a pediatrician, because I want not only to be a doctor but I want to help kids, too. I don’t want to sound creepy, but I like being around little kids.”
On the football field, Reyna likes being around players whose work ethic matches his own, and he’s quick to point out teammates Damon Nester, a senior quarterback-defensive back, and Caleb Reza, a junior guard-linebacker, as players “I really respect on the field.” Each, he says, “is always pushing himself and always wants to be better.”
A few younger players haven’t quite figured it out yet and Reyna says, “The ones who don’t, over time they’ll be weeded out.”
Not by Reyna, though. By the end of practice, he’s way too exhausted to do any weeding.