Academics vs. athletics has long been a hot topic regarding student athletes. Roberto Duenaz, a senior at Seattle Lutheran High School, is one of many students who has been motivated by athletic eligibility. Captain of this year's basketball team, Duenaz is the male recipient of February's Student Spotlight.
According to Seattle Lutheran’s Athletic Handbook, “A Student must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be eligible for co-curricular participation. Grades at the end of every four weeks are used to calculate GPA for eligibility. Students with one or more “F” grade (63% or below), regardless of GPA, are considered ineligible.” For Duenaz and other student athletes, this GPA is not always attainable for one reason or another.
Athletic Director David Sleighter said of Duenaz, “Although he has struggled with grades periodically throughout his four years, he has matured and made tremendous progress. I know for a fact that activities matter for Roberto.”
Head basketball coach Brett Kapels described Duenaz as “smooth, patient and unselfish,” all characteristics of a mature senior who has learned a lot over his last four years of athletics.
Beyond time management skills and a way to be part of a team, Duenaz has learned to have patience with players who aren’t as good as him, to appreciate the competition his teammates give him at practice, that “it doesn’t matter who scores as long as the team does good,” and regarding referees, they “don’t always do the best of jobs, but they do have a difficult job that not a lot of people could do.” That’s more than most adults can say about officials.
When asked of challenges he’s encountered in his four years at Seattle Lutheran, Duenaz noted his eligibility. Last year he had to sit out for six games early on in the basketball season. Considering the Lions have placed at State the last two years, it wasn’t easy for Duenaz to sit and watch.
Duenaz gives credit to overcoming his eligibility struggles by working harder, setting alarms for homework time and listening to everyone saying “time flies,” especially with the busy schedule of a student athlete.
For Duenaz, the day starts at 8:00am. He’s in class for six hours, has practice for two hours after school, then carves out time for homework, a shower, food and finally sleep - only to wake back up and do it all over again. Being a multi-sport athlete (Duenaz participates in two of three seasons) guarantees the four years of high school to go by quickly.
Although he feels like he’s missed out on activities with friends due to his commitment to being a student athlete, Duenaz said, “priorities matter.” Priorities for him have become committing to hard work on the court for his team and even harder work in the classroom for himself.
School hasn’t always been Duenaz’s favorite, but participating in school sports the last four years has turned his attitude around. Coach Brett Kapels explained further: “For some, it [extracurricular sports/activities] is the motivation to do well in school. For others it is one of the best things they have going in life, it keeps them moving everyday. Roberto has changed his view and really started to appreciate the opportunity to play and recognize the need to keep his work in order to do so.”