The Western Athletic Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year banquet was staged at the Turlock Golf & Country Club this past month.
Angel Arellano and Mariana Garibay attended the event as Central Valley High School’s award recipients.
“It was an honor being in a room filled with so many students who are successful both on and off the field,” Arellano said. “It made me proud. It taught me hard work pays off.”
Added Garibay: “Being part of it was really cool. I felt honored.”
Angel had a cumulative GPA of 4.5 during his high-school career.
"My strategy was I wasn’t afraid to ask for help to guide me in the right direction."Angel Arellano
“It was pretty stressful,” he said. “But it was worth it. My strategy was I wasn’t afraid to ask for help to guide me in the right direction.”
Arellano passed six Advanced Placement (AP) exams: US History, European History, English Literature, Spanish Literature, Spanish Language and Biology.
“My focus has always been academics,” said Angel, who will receive results for four other AP tests this July. “It was hard but I was able to get through it. On average, I had three hours of homework a night.”
Garibay had a 3.6 GPA during her senior year.
She passed one AP exam (Spanish).
“I was really driven,” Mariana said.
Arellano earned six varsity letters, including three in boys soccer, two in boys volleyball and one in football
“It is possible to succeed in both (academics and athletics),” he said.
Angel earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors in soccer and was selected to the WAC Second Team in volleyball during his senior year.
Central Valley’s soccer program amassed a 39-27-11 overall record, advanced to the finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs once and participated in the postseason twice from 2015-17.
“I’m happy with what we did,” Arellano said.
Angel played for Omar Leon (soccer), Kelly Heese (volleyball) and Scott Edwards (football).
“They’re some of the best coaches I’ve been around,” he said. “They cared about you not just as athletes but students and people. They taught us lessons that go far beyond sports.”
Garibay also earned seven varsity letters, including four in girls soccer and three in girls volleyball.
“It was a challenge balancing everything,” she said. “Sports consumed so much time. I’d get home late. I’d only have two hours to do my homework.”
Mariana filled a key role while leading Central Valley’s girls soccer program to record heights.
The 2017-18 Hawks made their first-ever appearance in a Sac-Joaquin Section title game, posted a program-best 21-2-2 overall record, captured their third consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship and finished first at the Buchanan Tournament in Clovis.
The Hawks climbed to No. 1 in the state and No. 12 in the nation in the MaxPreps rankings on Dec. 15.
Central Valley collected 60 wins, six losses and three ties in a three-year span.
Garibay earned all-WAC honors four times, including first-team accolades twice.
“We accomplished so much,” she said.
Garibay garnered first-team all-league recognition in volleyball her junior year.
“I liked to lead on the court and be loud,” she said. “It felt natural.”
Mariana and the Hawks participated in the playoffs twice under Heese’s guidance.
“We had a good vibe on the court,” Mariana said. “We all got along.”
Arellano and Garibay are both blazing their own paths as first-generation college students.
“My parents are always encouraging me to do better,” Mariana said.
“My parents have been extremely supportive,” Arellano said. “They’ve always had my back. Seeing them struggle motivated me. I want to further my education so I have a better life.”
Garibay will attend Stanislaus State.
She wants to become an elementary school teacher.
“My life has always revolved around sports,” Mariana said. “Now, it’s time to focus on my career. I like little kids a lot.”
Garibay has three younger siblings.
“They really look up to me,” she said. “They’re already headed in the right direction. They know what colleges they want to go to.”
Arellano will major in Biology at UC Davis.
“I plan to enter med school,” he said. “Helping others comes naturally to me and I also enjoy doing it.”