For Ariel Velazquez, traveling to a game or a tournament in which she is about to play — and, in all likelihood, play a leading role — is not crammed with worrying about the opposition, or the finer points of strategy her Ramona Convent Secondary School team is about to employ.
It is far more likely that she (and, for that matter, her teammates) use these bus rides to do reading homework for math, science, history or whatever class needs the most attention. And, if necessary, to assist one another with their homework.
“That’s part of the amazing sisterhood we have at Ramona,” said Velazquez, who, as a member of the all-girls’ school’s volleyball, basketball and softball teams, takes more bus rides than most. “If someone is having a problem with homework, she’s got a whole team to help her work through it. Just like we do in sports,” she added with a smile.
Currently, this homework-plying junior is helping her Tigers toward what they hope will be a successful Horizon League season and a return trip to the CIF playoffs in volleyball, basketball and softball. Ramona’s volleyball squad won its league opener Sept. 20, aided by Velazquez, who as a sophomore was voted the team’s “most improved player.”
Once volleyball ends, Velazquez will head to the basketball court, where she was last season’s team MVP and first team All-Horizon League. And then, next spring, she’ll man the “hot corner” of third base for the Tigers who reached the second round of the last season’s Division 7 playoffs, paced by Velazquez’ .448 batting average, which earned her another All-League selection.
“I love all sports,” said the oldest of Jorge and Melody Velazquez’ three children, who started playing basketball at age 4, about the time she started the pre-K program at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal School in Montebello.
As she continued her Catholic school education, she engaged in CYO and park league sports, helped by her dad who sometimes coached and “always has had a great impact on my athletic career. He’s been there every day, just like my mom encourages me academically to be the best I can be.”
She decided to attend Ramona Convent, and not just because of the athletic and academic opportunities it offered. “I really like the sisterhood at Ramona,” she said enthusiastically. “And I felt at home here immediately.”
Admittedly, her sports involvement helped her become better acquainted on the Alhambra campus. “I really didn’t know many people when I came here,” she recalled, “so being on the teams is where I started to make friends, and now I have good friends throughout the school. I think it ties in with team sports. We’re a very close school, and everyone on campus knows and supports each other, which makes it really special to be here.”
As a junior, Velazquez is still deciding which college to attend and what kind of career to pursue. “I really like science — I seem to ‘get it’ pretty easily — but I also like art, especially visual arts,” she noted. “I’d like to pursue premed and become a doctor, but there’s a long way to go at Ramona.”
When she’s not practicing or playing sports, Velazquez serves as a Ramona Convent “ambassador,” encouraging elementary-age girls to consider attending the school, and during the summer was a counselor for the monthlong Camp Ramona, a program for younger children.
She likes spending time with her family (her younger brother attends Don Bosco Tech, and her younger sister attends Miraculous Medal School). And, of course, she reads — “every second I can,” she chuckled. “I try to manage my time well.”
And she has no problem combining her Catholic faith into all aspects of her life. “We pray as a team before each game,” she said, “and I always ask God for guidance and help, especially in stressful situations. That helps me get through the tough times — and so does having so many great people around me. It’s just an amazing sisterhood to be part of.”