February 29, 2012
By Ryan O'Keefe
Chris and Josh Rodriguez are typical brothers; always pushing one another, competing in every sport together and being each other’s biggest fan when they hit water.
They both compete for Special Olympics Texas in the Rio Grande Valley in a variety of sports, including bowling, basketball and most importantly swimming. Even though they have won plenty of medals at local and state competitions, it’s what they are doing outside the pool that is making waves.
Mission/Veterans Memorial High School Swim Coach Arnold Perez talks about Chris and Josh like they were his own family. Coach Perez first met the twins in junior high school when he was an Adaptive PE teacher. He thought that the twins could not only compete in the water for Special Olympics Texas, but for their high school.
“I saw these two boys who I thought would be a great fit for the high school swim team. So I encouraged them both to come try out,” says Coach Perez.
Chris and Josh showed up. They made the team and from then on they were at every practice.
“What most people don’t understand is that 2-3 years ago we lost our pool that we practice in due to budget constraints. That meant we had to travel to a different pool each week for practice, not to mention meets. I lost a lot of swimmers because of that, but not Chris and Josh. They were always there,” says Coach Perez.
The boys’ impact on the team was felt right away. Socially, the boys blossomed. Their teammates would high-five them in the hallways and other students would congratulate the boys after they competed in a meet.
|Chris and Josh Rodriguez celebrate another district championship with their teammates.|
One of the main things Coach Perez has emphasized is treating the boys like everyone else. If they do something wrong, Coach Perez will get on them, like he would any of his other swimmers.
“They’re real additions to the team. I mean that. They’re faster than half of my guys. In some events I can only have 4 people and Chris and Josh are usually chosen because of their abilities in the pool,” says Coach Perez.
One of the biggest accomplishments the boys boast is their letterman jackets. Nothing says high school like a varsity letterman’s jacket.
“I’ve never seen them happier then when they received their jackets. Smiling ear to ear,” says Coach Perez.
The boys are moving onto another chapter of their lives as they prepare to graduate. It’s going to be a big adjustment for them and for Coach Perez. He says he is going to miss seeing them waiting for him on the bus and getting on their teammates when they don’t listen to coach. Plus, he’s going to miss the pure joy of seeing them competing in swimming meets.
“It’s been a blessing to have them be on the team. I’ve gotten to see them grow up. I’m going to really miss them,” says Coach Perez.
Don’t worry Coach - think you will be seeing the Rodriguez’s boys from time-to-time hanging around your swimming pools.
Both Chris and Josh will be honored for their achievements on the Mission/Veterans Memorial High School swim team this April at an awards banquet.