Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 6, 2013

JUNIOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gentle giant

Cardinals OL Joel Valladares shows two different sides on and off the football field

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

Athens — The road for sophomore offensive lineman Joel Valladares has been an interesting one at The Valley.

Coming out of Connaly High School in Pflugerville, Valladares arrived on the Athens campus looking to make an impression for head coach Brad Smiley and the coaching staff.

He had to work hard to make that dream a reality.

“I did not get offered right off the bat but I signed on as a preferred walk-on,” Valladares said. “I had to earn my scholarship and my first semester I paid for everything.

In my second semester, I guess I did everything I needed to do because I got my scholarship. The third semester I was starting for the team.”

Smiley said Valladares was a player coming out of high school that was determined to make a name for himself.

“Off the field, he did everything we asked him to do,” Smiley said. “On the field, you see the work ethic out of him. He plays with a  toughness and he made the switch from guard to center after the first game this season because of an injury to one of the starters.”

For every college athlete, being a starter is something they thrive for and for Valladares he made sure once he got it he would not lose his spot.

Smiley said during the off season that Valladares was the only returning starter on the offensive line — as he played all nine games last season.

Valladares (6-2, 325 pounds) said he will play whatever position he is asked to play by Smiley and offensive line coach J Pond.

Off the field, Valladares is a soft spoken guy but on the field he lets his actions speak for itself.

“I am somewhat of a vocal leader this year,” Valladeres said. “My teammates tell me that I talk and yell too much. I am trying to keep calm and change it up a little bit. It is more of a half-and-half relationship this year.”

At the Cardinal Field House, the first thing the players see is the Valley Boy Mission, which is graduate, win a championship and earn a scholarship.

Valladares said that is a goal he would like to accomplish this season.

Smiley said Valladares is headed in the right direction.

“I would like to see him continue doing what he is doing and I think he will get that scholarship at the end of the year,” Smiley said.

The saying, “There is no I in team,” holds true for Valladares and he makes sure every member of the Cardinals is treated like family.

“That is my brother and everyone of my teammates is my brother,” Valladares said. “We are going to fight each other at times but I don’t want anybody to fight my brother. It is more of a family aspect here at Trinity Valley and that is what we do is stick together.”

With only three more games scheduled for Bruce Field this season, Valladares said being road warriors is something he is looking forward to for the final seven games of the year.

“I love playing away because I love beating a team at their home field,” Valladares said. “There is no greater feeling on the bus ride back.”

The competitive aspect of Southwest Junior College Football Conference play is something Valladares gets excited for every Saturday night.

“The size and speed of this conference is big because we are all bigger, stronger and faster,” Valladares said. “Everything is bigger in Texas and there is no greater competition.”