Taking their shot: Mexican players train at NM high school

The Highland Hornets recently defeated the Cibola Cougars 66-63 on Cibola’s basketball court. The season opener on Dec. 3 included an exciting finish, as the Hornets staved off a final attack — but the game was also notable for featuring three rising stars, who are far from home.

Student Athletic Headquarters is, literally, home to Limas, Carreon and Marquez. The nonprofit organization attracts athletes of all ages to train in sports as a path to a more successful life. Photo by Alea White / NM News Port

Three of the five starting players of the Highland Hornets are Ramon Limas, Erasmo Carreon, and Raul Marquez, all from Chihuahua, Mexico. Each is in the process of pursuing his dream to pursue basketball and to attend college in America. 

“Americans are more involved in sports than people are in Mexico,” Carreon said. “People take it more seriously here. I knew I needed to move to the U.S.”

Limas, Carreon and Marquez have been playing basketball since they were 12 years old.  

Although the young men played on different teams in Mexico, their paths crossed at tournaments. It was their shared relationship with a coach, Luis Rodriguez Quintana, that brought them all together. Quintana lives in Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, and is a former New Mexico Highlands student athlete.

According to interviews, Quintana saw strong talent in each of the boys and wanted to help them take their talents to the next level. That included moving them to the United States.  

The three young men and Quinatana connected with a local nonprofit sports program, Student Athletic Headquarters (SAHQ).  This is where they train and also where they live.

Now attending Highland High School in Albuquerque, Limas, Carreon, and Marquez have had to learn what it is like to live on their own, while trying to balance school, basketball and being average local teenagers.

“It’s hard sometimes because we have to do everything on our own, like cooking and cleaning, but it’s fun” Carreon said.

Meet Ramon Limas

Limas, 18, comes from a large family. “My mom is a teacher for a university in Mexico,” he said. “My dad is an engineer. My older sister is an architect.  My little sister is in middle school, and my little brother is in elementary school.”

Limas left his family three years ago to chase his dream. His days are filled with hard work and dedication. “We basically train the whole day,” he said. “We come in the morning at 5:30 for our first workout, then we train after school from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.” This excludes the Hornet basketball practices.

“I like to play for Highland because it was really bad when we first got there, and now it is getting better.” Limas said. “This year is going to be good for us.”

Limas will be graduating in May of 2019 and has plans to study business in college, while continuing to play basketball. He is undecided as to where he would like to attend but is willing to go wherever the sport takes him.

Meet Erasmo Carreon

The youngest of three children, 17 year-old Carreon has been in the United States for two-and-a-half years. “Basketball is better here,” he said. “The level of playing is more competitive, and they support the sport more than they do in Mexico.”

“We chose to come to New Mexico because it is closer to where we live, and I can see my family more often” Carreon said. “Training in the U.S. and at SAHQ is kind of hard, but it’s working and we just want to get better.”

Once high school is over, Carreon wants to further his education and continue to play and improve his basketball skills. He hopes his outgoing personality and impressive three-point shots will take him far in the game and his future plans.

Meet Raul Marquez

Marquez, 17, came to the U.S. hoping to learn English and get an athletic scholarship to college.

He sees the Highland Hornets as a way to grow. “It is fun because the school was bad and we are trying to make it better,” he said. “I think we have the potential to win state this year.”

Marquez is a middle child. He has an older brother and a younger sister. “The hardest part about moving away is leaving my family,” he said. “However, schools in Mexico do not support sports like they do here.”

After high school, Marquez plans to get a degree in Business Administration. Although he is not exactly sure what he wants to do with that degree, he said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.    

Dunking on the Immigration Debate

With permission from their parents and Albuquerque Public Schools, Limas, Carreon, and Marquez were granted green cards to immigrate to New Mexico.  

Their green card immigration status allows the Mexican teens to visit their families back home a couple of times a year. Their families also come visit them in Albuquerque. They said that despite the Trump administration crack down on immigration, they have yet to experience difficulty crossing the border.  

According to the article, Sports Immigration in the United States,  most students under 18 must apply for an F-1 Student Visa. This allows them to train in the United States for longer than six months. “To apply for an F-1 Student Visa, the athlete must be accepted by a school authorized to accept foreign students. The athlete must take the I-20 form to the U.S. consulate in his or her country of residence to obtain the F-1 visa.”  

Currently, there are 33.7 million immigrants in the U.S., legally. As the Washington Post reported, that number far exceeds the number of immigrants here illegally.

All three boys want to further their basketball and academic careers in the U.S. The next basketball season is crucial to their future endeavors.

“This year is going to be good for us,” Limas said. “I can feel it.”

You can access game highlights and the Hornet Boys Basketball schedule at MaxPreps.com.    

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