Video: Ryan Raimondi highlights
Junior hopes to be mayor of his hometown and starting linebacker.
During a national pandemic, when the country is shut down and lives are lost daily, there needs to be a glimmer of hope, a streak of light — a kid like Ryan Raimondi
The undersized junior linebacker for Liberty (Brentwood, Calif.)
— about 50 miles east of San Francisco — flashes a wide smile, carries a weighty 4.5 grade point average and lifts all who surround him, says his football coach Ryan Partridge.
Not in a superficial, Disney-movie sort of way, Partridge says. But a very real, forceful "get-it-done" manner that can move more than an athletic team. He can lift the masses. Even during the COVID-19 days.
"He has an elite personality," Partridge said. "Outgoing. Charming. He is extremely well respected by all teammates and coaches. He leads by example, he's vocal and when needed, he's not afraid to be different.
"His leadership abilities on campus and passion for politics has me always thinking that he might be the President of the United States one day."
Big statement but Raimondi — all 5-foot-8, 160 pounds of him — is already maneuvering ahead of the curve.
The 17-year-old is planning to run for mayor of Brentwood this summer and it's no publicity stunt. He decided a month before the lockdown took effect — in February — to run when he turns 18. He'll be eligible for the ballot July 8.
If elected in November, Raimondi would be the country's third ever 18-year-old to take the mayor's seat, joining Michael Sessions (Hillsdale, Mich., in 2005) and Kelvin Green (Archer City, Texas in 2014).
Raimondi said he's not looking to make history or headlines.
He's been passionate about politics since his freshman year, is disheartened by the current political climate, hopes to inject more inclusion and open-mindedness into the world, and move "Brentwood into the best direction possible."
Part of that inclusion is the public accepting a kid who has had a driver's license for just more than a year to navigate the landscape of a city of approximately 63,000 residents, one that was the fastest growing in the state from 2000 to 2010.
But Raimondi is clearly no average teen. He grew up reading Thoreau's "Walden: Life in the Woods" and "The Life of Reason," by philosopher George Santayana.
He religiously studied the writings of Abraham Lincoln and has the Gettysburg Address placed clearly above his bedroom doorway.
Young, yes. Naive, no.
"My lack of experience is a viable concern to many and I realize that," Raimondi said. "But I wouldn't be throwing my name into the hat if I didn't have something to offer. I'm not afraid of the task. I'm not afraid to stand up to the wall. … the wall of un-change.
"Brentwood has diverted very little for a long time. It needs a little more outreach. Something new while preserving the historical aspect of the town."
Football has helped carve his path, though it hasn't been paved with many touchdowns or much glory. In fact, he was cut from the first team he ever tried out for as a fourth-grader.
"I was terrible, but at least I made it to the last cuts," he said.
His dad, a Navy veteran, worked 30 minutes south in Livermore, so his son tried out for a youth team there and made the squad. He played in two more youth football leagues — and starred in rugby (a sport he plans to play in college) — until reaching Liberty, which won a CIF Division 1-A state football championship in 2018.
Raimondi didn't make varsity on that team and last season he largely just shadowed All-Bay Area standout Mason Padilla
"I learned a lot from Mason and with all that experience, I definitely hope to get a shot at starting this season," Raimondi said.
Partridge said he's earned it.
"Two words describe Ryan and that would be ‘intelligent,' and ‘tough.' He is willing to take on any job to make the team better. … He's small in size, but big in heart."
The youngest of four children — he has three sisters — said the rigors of football and moving from one youth program to another built his outer and inner core.
"I always had to prove myself to a new group of players and coaches," he said. "I had to work extra hard, grow a new tough skin and develop character over and over again. … Football definitely builds character and leadership skills."
It should serve him well in the political arena. Win or lose in any election will be a great experience, he said.
"I've never been one to wallow or feel bad about myself," Raimondi said. "I welcome scrutiny. It fuels me. I don't really get disappointed, I just keep going. I don't see the benefit in sticking to the past and wallowing at what I could have done. I'm definitely one to look toward the future."