Warren Athletics is proud to announce the Athletes of the Week: Christopher Venegas (Varsity Football) and Nadine Gomez (Girls Varsity Cross Country). Both athletes have had standout seasons individually, and they have both led their teams to tremendous overall performances–7-3 in football (2nd place in SGVL competition), 10-0 in cross country (1st place in SGVL cluster meets). Venegas and Gomez are not done yet, as Venegas prepares for CIF Round 1 versus Crescenta Valley on Friday, Nov. 2 and Gomez prepares for the SGVL Finals on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Nadine Gomez is a junior on the Girls Varsity Cross Country Team. She has been a member of the Varsity team all three years in both cross country and track. Gomez’s older sister, Trinity, was a sensational standout in the Warren cross country and track programs. The talent literally runs in the family, as Trinity introduced Nadine to the sport. Gomez has already amassed so many accolades that it is difficult to remember that she is only a junior. As she reflects on her successes, she would contest that her best memories came during the Stanford Invitational because it was a fun experience, bonding with the team and learning about the university. She is such a team player that it required more probing to get her to discuss any of her individual accomplishments. Her performance at Mt. Sac was definitely one of many standout races, as she finished 19th overall in an 18:53. Most recently, Gomez ran a sub 18 at the Apache Invitational (Arcadia High School). This was only the second time in her storied career running under 18 (the first time came as a sophomore at the Woodbridge Invitational). Her experience within the cross country program has truly been a meteoric rise. Gomez still fondly remembers her first time competing as a freshman at the Woodbridge Invitational; she ran in the 19’s and earned a Varsity spot. It was her first taste of success, and it proved to be a precursor to the tremendous accomplishments that would follow. Again, Gomez recurrently refers back to the team. Her best memories were competing in CIF Prelims as a freshman then advancing to CIF Finals as a sophomore. Those team accolades resonate with her more than the individual accomplishments, so it took more questioning for her to embrace her personal successes, such as her back-to-back league championships in the 3,200m in track.
Gomez has proven that she can handle any of the pain and discomfort that inherently comes with the sport because she has had to endure far worse adversity in her young life. Sadly, during her sophomore year, Gomez’s father passed away unexpectedly. His passing happened the day before the Warren/Downey track meet. Most individuals would not have the resilience to fight through such tragedy, but Gomez found comfort, strength, and fortitude through her mother, her sister, Coach Waldron, and her teammates. It’s the bond that formed with her teammates who have seen her through such a tumultuous and tragic time in her life that solidifies her love for the team. When she thinks about what she is going to miss most about this program when it is all said and done, she unhesitatingly asserts that it is the friendship and camaraderie that have formed through their training and competition. Thankfully, she does not have to think about the end just yet, as her season still has pivotal moments ahead. Her goals are to PR at league finals and advance through CIF prelims and finals. She even goes so far as to admit that she hopes that this is the year that the team will qualify for the state meet. She credits the cross country program for helping her to learn how to work with her teammates and run with one another. More importantly, she maintains that the program helped establish and shape her identity through running. “Cross Country helped me figure out who I am.” The team has seen her through the greatest hardships, and she can proudly assert that they are a second family, especially when she needed one most. “It’s like I got a second family.” She now would advice others coming up in the program to stick with it even through pain. “Don’t give up; always push through, even when you feel like it hurts the most. In the end, it will be worth it and it will make you stronger as a person.”
Christopher Venegas is a 4-year member of the Varsity Football Team. He is an all-around phenomenal athlete, competing on the Baseball Team as a freshman and on the Varsity Track and Field Team as a sophomore and junior. Venegas’s game through the air is a thing for the highlight reels, but his game on the ground is equally impressive. His speed outside of the pocket is unmatched, as evidenced by his multi-sport athletic prowess, competing in the 100, 200, 400, 4×100, and 4×400 in track. Akin to Gomez, Venegas never focuses on the individual accomplishments; rather, his team mentality resonates through every response. For him, the highlights are not in his stat lines; they are in the overall team performance. Starting the season-opener with a win over St. Anthony was an integral accomplishment for Venegas and the team. “Once we got that first win as a team, it showed how good we could be!” This team has undeniable potential. Beating Downey (for the first time since 2015 and the first time at Downey since 1998) in a commanding fashion was a huge boost to the team’s confidence, especially as they approached playoff season. Now it’s time to see that potential all the way through to fruition. All of Venegas’s best memories center on the bond he has fostered with his teammates who have been with him since freshmen year. They have grown up as friends, but they have forged a relationship that is more like a brotherhood. Venegas cannot emphasize enough how special it is to him to be so close with his teammates outside of football and then have that chemistry transfer onto the field. It’s that chemistry and that brotherhood that allow the team to fight through obstacles and maintain their composure in high-stakes situations, like the 2-point conversion to win the game against St. Paul (2017 season) or the defensive stop of the 2-point conversion to win the game against La Serna (2018 season).
Individually, Venegas has faced personal hardship. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Venegas had to endure a lot of criticism. “You’re not worth it,” the nay-sayers and critics asserted. Venegas exemplified the fortitude and resilience to use that criticism as motivation. Those voices of doubt inspired him to give every ounce of himself in practice and to get better each and every single day. “All my life I’ve been told something I couldn’t do.” Those doubts never infiltrated his mind; Venegas lives for the opportunities to prove the critics wrong. There is no denying that he is an undersized quarterback, but he never allows himself to use that as a crutch or an excuse. “We’re all different, it’s good to be different! I love to be short because I love being in the position where I can prove someone wrong.” Not only does Venegas cherish the obstacles and adversity, he also embraces failure as an opportunity for future success. When he thinks about what he is going to miss most about Warren football, his answer is seemingly bizarre–body builders (also known as burpees). When originally considering that response, Venegas seems to be a masochist. For him, the response sounds odd, but it’s not about the pain; rather, it’s about being in the position to learn from mistakes. He cherishes every opportunity to learn and grow with his teammates. Venegas sincerely believes that through failure, athletes can learn to succeed. The conversation leaves most adults questioning how one young athlete can embody such tremendous maturity and integrity. If Venegas is asked, he will proudly assert that his character is defined by his mom. She is a single mom who has raised two tremendous kids. She gets very little support, and she works tirelessly to provide every opportunity for her children. She has put in countless hours to ensure that she is raising a man of upstanding character, a young man who proudly upholds the duties as the man of the house. Venegas proudly boasts that his mom is the hardest worker; she makes no excuses, she never whines. She just wants to ensure that her children always have the best. Venegas would be remiss not to give credit where credit is due, and his mom is without question the biggest influence in his life.
Venegas’s season still has quite a few unfulfilled goals. He hopes to win a CIF championship as a team; he wants to lead the team to that title. He also plans to continue to work hard academically to put himself in the best position possible for his future. By the time February comes, he hopes to sign with a school that will give him the opportunity to further his academic and athletic pursuits. Venegas is proud to represent Warren High School; proud to be a Bear. He takes immense honor in representing “the school and the spirit that comes with it–that’s something special that this school has.” For all those hoping to follow in his footsteps, heed his advice. “Do not take anything for granted; 4 years goes by really fast. Learn and listen—you’ll become a better athlete and a better person at the same time.”
Again, congratulations to our Athletes of the Week–Nadine Gomez and Christopher Venegas!