Community member Nicholas “Nick” Valencia, 12, is a kid with big dreams and a bright future. Standing 5’11”, well above the national average, he already has his academic and athletic plans mapped out. Although he may be a new comer to the sport of football, he is proficient in the sport of basketball and with his height; he has a chance to make it to the NBA.
Valencia is currently attending Fountain Hills Middle School as a sixth grader. His parents are; Ernestine Kill, mother; Francisco “Chico” Valencia, father and Tyson Lewis, step-father. He has two sisters; Tyra Lewis, eight-years-old and Anaya Lewis, two-years-old. Coming from a family of basketball players, Valencia was able to inherit their natural athletic abilities. Valencia is already familiar with working hard academically, mentally, socially and physically. He enjoys participating in competitive sports and continues work towards his goals.
“[I always tell] Nick to get good grades. He [knows he] can’t play basketball or anything unless he has the grades. Also, [I hope] he continues to get better. I tell him, in order to be better he has to work hard. That means practicing and going 110 percent at practice. In order to be the best, [you’ve] got to compete against the best.’ That’s why he is where he is,” said Kill about her only son.
For his age, Valencia has many outstanding accomplishments. Playing with the undefeated Arizona Raiders, he is the second strongest on the team, he recovered a fumble and made a touchdown and recently found out that he was selected as an All-Star Player in his first year playing football.
Valencia’s main focus is basketball, his accomplishments are still being written, although some include; scoring the winning shot in 2011 and taking his team to the semi-finals, being a first-string player, winning 21 championship games, winning 4 second place games, receiving three all-tourneys and four most valuable player awards. Valencia’s averages per game; 12 points, 5 assists and 15 rebounds. He is the tallest on all his teams and ended last season undefeated.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of money. [Nick] is very lucky. We live in Fort McDowell and he plays out of Chandler, we have to leave our house at 5 p.m. and we don’t get home until after 9 p.m. It’s a big, big, commitment on our end for him to be in sports,’ stated Kill. “But, I don’t mind. It’s for him, it’s keeping him in school, it [requires] him to do his homework and [earn good] grades. Kids his age are out there getting high and doing bad things. [Participating in] basketball and other sports is preventing him from doing those bad things.”
According to SAMHSA.gov, diabetes and obesity is at an all-time high within the SRPMIC. This shows that children aren’t as active as they used to be. Our current generation, known as the Millennial Generation, aren’t as interested in playing outside in the dirt or crawling on trees anymore. These days, our youth are glued to their phones, televisions and video games. Technology is not all to blame, but plays a key role in the rising diabetes and obesity numbers.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I got him into basketball,” said Kill about diabetes and obesity. “When [Nick] was little, he was not a skinny kid. The doctor said he was at risk for diabetes, so that’s when we started him in basketball and we just never stopped. He just loved it.”
With the help of these competitive sports, Valencia is now a part of the very few youth who have a chance to make it big. “The doctors said Nick could possibly be anywhere from 6’4” to 6’10” in height,” added Kill. The dreams of kids are adorable to hear, but Valencia is contempt that he will accomplish his goals and dreams. Blake Griffin, a forward for the Los Angeles Clippers is Valencia’s role model and continues to help him to work harder. “Every summer I go to the gym everyday [and] I play with high school [kids] and older guys to help me to [get better],” said Valencia. “Work hard and don’t stop what you love doing.”