H.M. King High School student Rudy Calzada was named the Male Athlete of the Year during the Special Olympics in Flour Bluff, which took place earlier this month.
In order to be considered for the award, athletes must first be nominated by their coaches and teachers, to which coach Michelle Carrales said Rudy was “very deserving.”
“So when I carefully consider who I’m going to nominate, I have to look at all the credentials,” Carrales said. “Are they a leader? Are they kind to the rest of the athletes? Does he stand out? Well, Rudy does. He’s very, very determined, soft spoken, as you can tell, but very determined. So I was really honored and pleased that he was chosen.”
Rudy’s mother, Gladys, said she was in shock at first, but was happy when she received the call from Carrales informing her he had won the award.
“I started crying, of course,” Gladys said. “He’s worked very hard. Since he was eight-years-old, he’s been in Special Olympics, and in the last couple of years he’s blossomed a lot.”
The 16-year-old student athlete said he was excited when he found he was given the honor, and also said he was “really surprised.”
“They came to my house, and I closed my eyes tightly,” Rudy said. “Then (I opened them) and saw the sign.”
Rudy has collected 25 medals as an athlete in Special Olympics events, and is always excited to play.
He is coached by H.M. King Special Olympic coaches Carrales, Lynn Adrian, Melissa Gonzalez and Ed Gonzalez
Rudy said his favorite sport to play is basketball, and he was one of the top scorers at the Area 2 tournament earlier in the year.
“I scored 22-points (in the first game),” Rudy said, “and 12 in the second.”
Rudy and his team were able to bring home a gold medal in basketball, a feat that he said made him happy.
Carrales and Gladys said comparing how Rudy plays basketball, from when he first started to now, is like night and day.
“Even from one year, it’s like he’s totally different,” Gladys said. “He started watching a lot of basketball on TV. I guess by watching, it’s helped him get a little more aggressive in playing, and he showed that on the court this year.”
“They even knocked off his glasses, and I thought he was going to stop playing, and he just picked them up and kept on playing,” Gladys added.
Rudy said his favorite basketball team is the Los Angeles Lakers.
At the spring games in Flour Bluff, he earned a gold medal in the 50-meter dash, and a silver medal in the softball throw.
Rudy is also a gifted bowler, with his best score of 130.
“We even have some people who tell us he should join some (bowling) leagues,” Carrales said. “He is an amazing bowler.”
Rudy said he wants to continue to play the sports he loves “for more years to come.”
Aside from watching and playing sports, Rudy said he enjoys being with his family, likes going to practice and loves watching wrestling when he is at home.