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Inside the dedication of a coach

Passion runs deep for Wasco sports, and Juan Gallardo is one Wasconian who exemplifies the love that comes with someone who truly cares about the youth he serves through athletics.

Gallardo has been the Wasco High School varsity co-ed wrestling coach since 2010. What he enjoys most about is being invested in the kids.

"Helping them through homework and in-life issues at home and in school. Try to hold them accountable as adults. And try to have them make sure they get done with everything they need to do.

"Teaching them how to balance school with the sport, time management and how to speak to others, hold them accountable to the team, make sure they show up, sometimes at 4 a.m. to go to a tournament."

He said he loves his kids.

"I'm very hard on them because I know the world is hard. Their mom and dad will not always be around to save them. I'm not always going to be around to save them. They must have a strong backbone because the world changes yearly."

When asked how the sport impacts the athletes, he said, "It is a life sport. When they finish their high school and college careers, it teaches them to show up for their daily work on time and not to call in sick. It teaches them to work well with other teammates. When they get a job, it shows them to be flexible, stay late and come in early. It teaches them how to communicate with their team at work or with their spouse."

The sport has opened up new opportunities for his athletes, and they have traveled for tournaments to Reno, Las Vegas, Utah, San Diego, Fresno, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

These have been once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the kids. "Some have never traveled outside Wasco or even seen the ocean, played in the snow or put their feet in the sand for the first time."

Areli Solis is one of his athletes. "He is an amazing and wonderful coach because he pushes me and everyone around to be the best," she said "He is an incredible influence, and I feel like he has taught me to be a better athlete and a better person."

His son, Juan D. Gallardo, who he also coaches, said, "He's a great coach and father. He leads us with passion but also with control and by example."

Gallardo said he is grateful for the town of Wasco and its people. "And the coaches who put up with me, who see my vision, support it and help me keep the kids in line. I appreciate them and their effort."

 

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