Carlos Ramos knows he lost his way early in high school. But after a rocky start that included a disciplinary infraction and poor grades, the junior is now flourishing in the classroom and as a citizen on campus.
Ramos is also an emerging standout on the Cherokees’ boys soccer team that has raced to a 3-0 start. As a second-year sweeper, he is a critical component of the team’s designs on claiming its second Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division championship in three years.
Just over a year ago, Ramos figures he hit rock bottom. He had already slid into an I don’t care routine that resulted in flagging grades and the lack of any sense of responsibility.
Then he got into a fight with a fellow student – a highly-visible incident that occurred during school hours. Ramos landed a weeklong suspension from Sequoia, leaving him with plenty of time to take stock of how he had gotten derailed.
He took a hard look inward and saw a plenty capable student who wasn’t applying himself and was letting his potential slip away.
“I wanted to be a cool guy,” the junior said. “I didn’t really care about anything. I thought that I’d get a chance whenever I wanted to.”
The suspension served as a wake-up call for Ramos. It certainly didn’t hurt that he realized he had jeopardized his ability to play the sport he loves and that he was fortunate to be allowed to return to Sequoia’s team.
“In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘No soccer?’ That was a nightmare,” said Ramos, who spent his freshman year at Woodside before transferring. “That day (of the fight), I easily could’ve just walked away. That decision could’ve cost me not to play soccer for the rest of my high school years.”
Fortunately for Ramos, his coach, Julio Calles, was eager to help provide some structure and guidance. Calles’ son Bryan is one of Ramos’ close friends. That enabled Calles, who is a computer technician at Sequoia, to take on a mentoring role on campus, on the field and over family dinners.
“He’s a good kid,” said the Sequoia coach, who installed Ramos as the starting sweeper as a sophomore. “He was waiting for someone to give him some support.”
A big part of Ramos’ transformation was coming to understand how his actions were affecting his future.
After being a very good student in middle school, he had completely abandoned his focus in high school. Ramos said he compiled a 1.2 GPA as a freshman and a 2.0 as a sophomore.
But he came to realize that his opportunity to attend college would be dependant on earning top grades, possibly greasing the wheels for financial aid.
Ramos’ academic makeover has been impressive, and he now proudly sports “a 3.8 or 3.9.”
“I am really proud of this guy. He has changed a lot,” Calles said. “Now he’s so into it. The teachers are saying they can’t believe how good he’s doing in school. He’s changed because he wants it.”
None of Ramos’ three older siblings had the chance to go to college. Ramos’ personal growth is also evident in his strong desire to “set up the role model” for his five younger siblings.
Ramos said he has also experienced an epiphany on the soccer field, where he is fast developing into an impact defender for a team that boasts impressive victories over St. Ignatius and Los Altos in the young season. He feels he is more devoted to the program and he wants to shoulder a leadership role.
“Last year, I played but I didn’t really care about the school,” Ramos said. “This year, I feel like the whole team is putting in an effort for everyone, not just doing it for themselves.”
Calles called his sweeper “a great defender,” and a player who “never, never gives up.”
“He has a passion for the game,” the coach added. “He’ll be my captain next year.”