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Dedicated Hawk
"I just love the game," said the 5-foot-5-inch, 145-pound cornerback and tailback. "There's something about it that makes me want to dedicate myself to it. I want to be the best at it."

Lopez recently returned from San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich's Football Camp, held July 5-9, at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. He was named the top defensive back in the 15-18 age division.

"I was surprised but they recognized what I was taught at high school," said Vince, who received a medal for his overall effort. "I knew a lot of the stuff they were doing."

The four-day camp featured daily instruction, lectures and demonstration on fundamentals. Participants practiced three times a day, from 9 to 11 a.m., 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-8:45 p.m.

"It was a good experience," Lopez said. "I got to see how I could do against other players from different places. The coaches showed me a lot more things I could use on defense. We worked on containing the run. It was fun."

Vince shared a dorm room with three other players. They had their own kitchen and bathroom.

"It was different," he said. "I got a chance to see what it was like to live away from home."

Lopez brought back a souvenir from Hayward. Ulbrich, quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Manny Lawson penned their signatures on a football for Vince.

Camp tuition was $779. Alex and Donna, Vince's parents, paid for it.

"I'm really thankful," he said. "They've always been there, encouraged me to do my best and never give up. I'm just glad I have parents that care. They want to see me do good in school and everything else."

Lopez shined during the Central Valley High School football program's summer 7-on-7 passing league season.

"If we had a game tomorrow, he'd be starting, based on everything we've seen from him out here and in the weight room," Hawks head coach Tim Garcia said. "He's coachable. And he works hard."

Vince had near-perfect attendance.

"The only practices I missed were when I went to the camp," he said.

Asked what he would do if asked to join Central Valley's varsity squad this upcoming season, Lopez said: "I wouldn't say no to it. I want to help out the team. We have a good chance at playoffs."

Vince also has aspirations to play football at the collegiate level. He talked about the importance of education as well.

"Sports aren't always going to be there," Lopez said.

Vince amassed a 3.3 cumulative GPA during his freshman year. He also earned United States Achievement Academy National Award Winner honors. The Academy selects winners upon the recommendation of teachers, coaches, counselors and other qualified sponsors. The criteria for selection are a student's academic performance, interest and aptitude, leadership qualities, responsibility, enthusiasm, motivation to learn and improve, citizenship, attitude and cooperative spirit and dependability.

Coach Garcia nominated Lopez. "He's a great kid," Tim said.