One Palm Beach County high school football team is not only playing out of the district on Friday night, they are playing out of the state of Florida.
The Santaluces Community High School Chiefs are in Louisiana for their first-ever game outside the Sunshine State.
Hector Clavijo, the team’s second-year head coach, wants the players to know theres more to football than just the action on the field. Thats why he packed his team up to head to the Big Easy.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
They play together, they eat together, and now, they travel together.
“I feel like Im in the NFL, really, to be honest,” Santaluces wide receiver Jamar Browder said about the team’s out-of-state football game on Friday. “I tried to keep it cool, but on the inside, I was happy. I’m really just gonna be happy to go with my teammates and have a good coach right next to me.”
That coach is Clavijo.
“I think theres a lot more to football than just the neighborhood games,” Clavijo said.
So Clavijo set the Friday matchup against John Curtis Christian School, just outside of New Orleans.
“It’s giving back to the kids, giving them an experience theyve never been able to have,” Clavijo said. “And thats what were here for. Not only to teach them how to play the game, but also, lets do a little exploration and have a little fun somewhere else.”
“I think its really special,” Santaluces player Amir Gibson said. “Not many teams get to do this, so Im just really grateful that Coach Hector gave us this opportunity.”
And the Chiefs are not only playing football. They’re touring college campuses, and many of them are flying for the first time.
“There will be a lot of sightseeing and Bourbon Street, and theyll be able to say, hey, I was there once. I was there with my buddies. I was there with my coach and teammates. And thats something theyll remember for the rest of their lives,” Clavijo said.
“Show those boys in New Orleans what we got,” said Santaluces freshman kicker Cristian Clavijo, the head coach’s younger brother.
It’s a family affair for Clavijo.
“He does a great job treating me no differently than anybody else,” Cristian Clavijo said.
So win or lose, the Chiefs know the trip will bring them closer together.
“The team bonding is gonna be even more team chemistry,” Browder said. “And imagine next year, we got all the same guys. Its really gonna be like were brothers.”
“Really spend some quality time with the guys and get to know them more and just show them theres more to life than just West Palm Beach,” Coach Clavijo said.
The trip was paid for through fundraising, ticket sales, and a stipend from the opposing team. So the Santaluces High School players did not have to pay anything out of pocket for this special experience.