Veliz Stepping Up His Game

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

ALOHA, Ore.–  As practice wrapped up Saturday afternoon at Aloha High School, Woodburn Junior Tomas Veliz found himself one of Team Alpha’s 14 players out in the practice finale’s ‘My best seven versus your best seven’.

“It was good, there was a lot of energy.  A lot of competitiveness there in that last drive,” said Veliz.  “First time defense against first team offense.  It’s competitive, you got to compete.”

The defense would take the battle on this day, holding the offense to without a score at the end of the 7-on-7 practice and making the series match-up 1-1 on the season.  Veliz mentioned before that he goes out there to work hard and with confidence to boot.

Having played his first full season on Varsity as a sophomore after playing defense only his freshman year with the Bulldogs, Veliz is using this time to make up for lost time with the postponement of his Junior year to February.

Veliz (right, white sweatshirt) listening to Dylan Young talking at the end of practice Saturday (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“Yeah, I feel like it’s really developing me.  I feel like coming into this year of High School, I feel like I have to be a leader being an upperclassman now.  The past two years, this is just adding to this year,” said Veliz.

Like his brothers in RJ and Cruz, the middle Veliz comes off with the ‘We before Me’ persona.  Something that he needs to bring into practice as he tries to take hold of one of the leadership roles with Woodburn this year.

“It’s just bringing in that team mentality into practice.  The only way we’re going to play well is not if I’m selfish and not if I care only about myself, but only if I bring my team up,” Veliz.  “If we come together as a team, we can win as a team.”

Veliz and the ‘Dogs were on a momentum ride when the Pandemic hit in March, canceling a promising 4A State Run prematurely, but the time has made him appreciate the little things like what was going on Saturday up in the Metro Area.

Veliz (right) shadowing a teammate during a Defensive Back drill during Saturday’s Team Alpha practice (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“It’s huge.  Everything can be taken away from you in an instance,” said Veliz. “Like last year, we were in the State Basketball Tournament and all of a sudden it got canceled.  You just can’t take anything for granted, you got to give it your all every day.”

As he continued to work on his craft, getting bigger, stronger and faster, Veliz did sport the neon shorts during Saturday’s practice.  Resembling something off of the 1990’s sitcom ‘Save By The Bell’ as the Alpha’s went through several drills during their two-hour practice at Aloha.

“I don’t know, I was just feeling something different. Something I just picked out on the run,” joked Veliz.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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