Son of the Year
Freshman year was a time of mixed emotions for Michael Bosquez.
He was fighting hard to realize his goal of starting on the Coolidge (Ariz.) varsity football team all the while his dad — who he refers to as "Pops" — battled cancer.
The latter can be tough to process for a teenager, but Michael surged through.
For how busy Michael was with athletics and academics, his top priority was always making sure his dad, Hector, was being properly taken care of and he helped provided anything he needed.
"But after seeing that, I realized I could do anything.”
Hector was diagnosed with stage 3 — which is the final stage — of testicular cancer as well as having a tumor. He wasn't going to let that stop him. It's that fighter's mentality that has been passed down from father to son.
"He would go to practice and then come home and help me," Hector said. "When he would go to school in the morning, he would make sure I had all of the things that I needed. When I had chemotherapy, he was driving to all my chemo sessions in Phoenix, which is about a 45-minute drive."
Michael, who turns 18 at the end of May, was just doing what any good son would do for their beloved dad. He has always been one of pops' biggest supporters.
"Sometimes he would just say, ‘You know, dad, I'm just going to stay here and I'm going to look after you,'" Hector said. "I would push him out the door and say, ‘No. Don't stop your life just to take care of me.' I had other family members that could help me, and he didn't accept that."
After three major surgeries and round after round of chemotherapy, Hector beat the deadly disease. He is currently in remission.
Having watched what his dad went through, kicking cancer's butt, was a life-altering situation for Michael.
"It changed my whole perspective when that happened because everybody at one point in their life feels sorry for themselves and believes that they can't do something," said Michael, who is now a junior at Coolidge. "But I watched my dad fight stage 3 cancer and he had a tumor bigger than a softball on top of his heart. A week after his surgery, I watched him get out of that bed and go home. He wanted to go back to work and he wanted to go back to his daily routine even though he couldn't because his body wouldn't physically let him. But after seeing that, I realized I could do anything."
Hector is so grateful for Michael — calling him "Son of the Year" — for all his love and support throughout the fight for his life.
"He's special," Hector said. "He's got a really, really big heart. What he did for me, I'm never, ever going to forget. For him to go out of his way for what he did, it was amazing."
Said Michael: "My father never gave up on me, so I'm never going to give up on him. I know one thing I can do to make my pops proud is be great at sports and be great at whatever I can do."
Anyone who crosses paths with Michael realizes he's a kind and gifted kid. A ruthless warrior on the football field, he's the complete opposite away from athletics.
"I know it's been a very difficult challenge for him but he's attacked it just like he's attacked everything else in his life: with a positive attitude and a willingness to do whatever needs to get done to make it happen," said Bill Godsil, who was Bosquez's football coach as a sophomore and junior at Coolidge.
For Michael's desire to put his dad's needs over his all the while striving to do his best athletically and academically, he was named Semper Fidelis Athlete of the Month, presented by the Marines.
He'll have the opportunity to attend the Battles Won Academy in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Despite all the unforeseen situations that arose his freshman year, Bosquez earned a starting nod on the football team and has been making great strides the past three seasons.
Bosquez starts on both sides of the ball, but it's on defense where he makes the biggest impact. He had 40 tackles, 21 solo, as a junior to go with two sacks and one fumble recovery at linebacker and strong safety.
"I think personally it's because I have great vision and I'm very good at reading the ball," said Bosquez, who scored one touchdown this season as a slot receiver/running back. "I'm always going to find the ball, knowing where someone's going to go and anticipating where it's going to happen."
Godsil, who left Coolidge after this season to coach at a larger high school, had Bosquez serve as a team captain multiple times as a junior. The coach granted the captaincy role to players who really shined the previous game.
"His work ethic in practice, his ability in the classroom, his ability on the football field, his versatility on the football field," Godsil said. "He was a part-time guy on offense, so that's when he got his rest. But he was on almost every special team and played every down on defense as well."
Bosquez, who also is on the track and field team, specializing in the 300-meter hurdles, is one of the defensive leaders and calls out plays to his teammates.
"My nickname when I walk around, my teammates call me, ‘Captain Mikey,' because I'm always the one who's telling people, ‘Do this, do that,'" Bosquez said.
At about 5-foot-9, Bosquez doesn't have prototypical linebacker size. But for what he lacks in the height department he certainly makes up for with his dedication in the weight room.
Bosquez squats over 400 pounds and trains seven days a week. Who has time for an off day?
On the weekends, he does a workout session in the morning and one at night. During the school week, he works out during his seventh period and if he doesn't have a sports practice after school, he'll hit the gym again.
"He's a gym rat," Godsil said. "He loves the weight room. He would beg me on days that we had a week off at Christmas and a week off for spring break and give them a week during summer but he would beg us to come down and open the weight room for him. He's a kid who loves to get those extra reps in the weight room."
Working hard will be key if Bosquez reaches his goal of playing football at collegiate level.
Bosquez's dedication to being the best football player he can never overshadows his desire for greatness academically. With a 3.6 grade point average, Bosquez is a member of his school's National Honor Society and Future Farmers of America.
Bosquez is looking forward to working his third summer for the city of Coolidge Parks and Recreation Department as a lifeguard. Through that job, he helps with a number of community projects.
Each summer, Bosquez's football team always takes part in a volunteer opportunity. Last year, it was painting the outside of the local VFW and also helping with some duties inside the building.
"He's a high character kid that believes in helping others first," Godsil said. "He understands that if you help other people in your community is essentially going to help you in the long run because the good deeds you're doing, people see that and will now look out for you as you move through your life as an adult."
When Godsil got a golden opportunity to move up and coach at a larger Arizona high school, he took the jump. But it wasn't without hesitation because he knew he'd have another year at Coolidge with high-character players such as Bosquez.
"He's a kid I wouldn't even mind having him date my teenage daughter, so that's saying a lot right there," Godsil said.