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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

Alumni Feature: Mateo Rodriguez

Mateo Rodriguez is an SRA Alumni. Rodriguez was a varsity football, soccer, and cheer player and now has become a devoted husband, father, man of faith and EMT. Mateo grew up locally in Menifee living with his grandparents coming to Santa Rosa in the seventh grade becoming a multi-sport athlete, a standout student, and a pillar of the school’s traits. Rodriguez carved out a legacy at Santa Rosa that still lasts to this very day, he continues to have a work ethic and life habits he developed in Santa Rosa Academy now being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and going to school to one day be a firefighter describing himself as a lifelong student and learner. You don’t see a story like this every day a local hometown kid grows up with his best friend whom he has known since he was three years old becomes a multi-sport 4.0 honors in high school and later goes on to marry his high school sweetheart moved halfway across the country, had a kid and lived out his dreams, that right there was something special, so I decided to interview the man.

A nice photo of Mateo Rodriguez and Gabbie Ballard. The photo sows them being super happy and excited to simply be around each other, truly a great relationship.

Starting the interview, I spoke with Rodriguez asking him to tell me about himself and where he’s at in life, communicating that life in some aspects is completely different from his humble Santa Rosa beginnings.

“Life is now completely different. I moved across the country, I have my own family and house and job and tons of responsibilities. Things are truly different.” After leaving high school, Rodriguez married his high school sweetheart and fellow SRA Alumni Gabby Ballard. The pair dated all through high school after having a child together Isaiah Rodriguez was born. Soon after the family decided to move out to Tennessee where the rest of Gabby’s family moved out too. Soon after deciding to move close to Ms Ballards family living in Tennessee. Mateo is currently employed as an EMT while attending school to become a medic and a firefighter one day.

After Mateo took a step back to analyze what his life is like currently, it felt only natural to ask If he misses being a Ranger and going to Santa Rosa his response surprised me saying “Yeah, I kinda do miss it weirdly it’s the sort of thing where you don’t miss till it’s gone.”

“When I was in high school I was so excited to leave and never come back but when it was gone I ended up looking back and missing school, except for the homework I hate the homework.”

Rodriguez is very introspective about his experiences which is different compared to what most high schoolers would say they dislike school wishing to leave, Mateo harbors some of those feelings himself but looks back fondly about his time at Santa Rosa.

It felt almost natural to ask Mateo if he felt he had an impact on any of his classmates at Santa Rosa saying he thinks he substantially impacted other students and faculty. He said, “I hope I made an impact on people that was always my goal, I always tried to be the be the best I could be in whatever I’ve done whether it’s sports, academics, or relationships, I gave it all I had, that’s something I’ve taken with me after high school.”

I asked Mateo who he feels he impacted the most saying his wife and the mother of his one-year-old child Isaiah Rodriguez, he commented, “When I met her and we started talking and eventually dating everything changed for better or worse they did the adventure we’ve been on has been really like no other, I feel incredibly honored to be a father and to have the privilege the raise my son Isaiah and be the best husband I can be it’s an adventure and it’s crazy but that’s the fun part I’d say.”

I asked Mateo what his biggest regret was looking back on high school, saying “I wish I enjoyed the little things more instead of worrying about things that don’t matter and never really did. In high school, you’re kinda always caught up in yourself, you can’t nuance.”

Mateo Rodriguez and Gabby Ballard posing in a snow-covered forest. A tribute to their relationship and them as individuals. (Mateo Rodriguez)

I asked Mateo what his best advice would be to any high school kid out there. Mateo relayed “Enjoy the little things and don’t stress too much.” It is a subtle yet exact and simple message to high school students. Often many students forget to really take the time and step back to appreciate themselves, their accomplishments, what they’ve done, and where they’re going, myself included.

Following up since Mateo has talked about his regrets and his impact on fellow alum and faculty alike I figured to ask him what his best memory was throughout his Santa Rosa Academy High School experience saying “Gabby, the dances, the dates, the everything, every moment I spent with her I loved all of it and would do all of it over again in an instant if I could.”

Quite a beautiful message from Mateo with an eloquent delivery might I add. Rodriguez went on to say, “Hanging out with Gabby was the best part of high school for me by far.” To follow up I asked Matthew who he felt were the most important people to him during high school besides Gabby his now wife and the mother of his child little Isaiah.

He mentioned one name consistently throughout, that name was Joshua Brady, funnily enough, Mateo had known Josh since he was around 3 years old as their parents were friends and naturally grew up together throughout school. He described their relationship as follows: “Oh man it was something special, he was the one guy I always had in my corner when times were tough. I had Josh, the best friend I’ll probably ever have besides Gabby, I’m so grateful he was and still is a big part of my life.” Funnily enough Joshua Brady has a younger brother at the school Zavien Brady, Mateo commenting “It goes to show you how much of a family atmosphere the school has and is known for I’d say.”


Looking ahead to the future I asked Rodriguez about what his goals for the future look like.
“I want to be a medic, then I want to be a firefighter, I never want to stop learning, I want to be the best at my Job, I want to become more responsible and more of my person, someone dependable, most importantly I want to be the best husband and father I can be to the two people that are the most important to me, my wife and firstborn son.”

To end the interview, he went on to say, “Honestly believe in yourself, believe in other people, never stop being yourself, try to uplift each other, and know that whatever you are going through you can accomplish it you can reach the mountaintop.”

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About the Contributor
Che Marroquin
Che Marroquin, Staff Writer
Che’ Marroquin is a Sophomore who wrestles for Santa Rosa Academy He has been attending Santa Rosa Academy for 11 years. His wrestling weight class is currently undecided but he has wrestled at 182, 195 and 215 before. Outside of school, Che’ enjoys Dungeons and Dragons, computer games, 3-D modeling, and playing guitar. Che’ is an outstanding student with a 3.5 grade point average. In his time, away from school and sports, Che’ enjoys listening to music, spending time with his family and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends on the weekends. 
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