As Pitman High School and Turlock High School football players take the field tonight for the 12th annual Harvest Bowl, one player that will remain on the sidelines is PHS senior Quinton Coelho.
The reason Coelho will not assume his normal position in the stadium tonight and the reason he has not played any games this season is certainly not due to lack of skill.
Rather, doctors found a tumor on one of Coelho’s kidneys at the beginning of this season, and as a result he was told that he could not play.
“However, when this young man walks onto the field or enters the room, he still has the respect of his teammates,” said PHS physical education teacher and athletics coach Chris Wolfley. “He has been one of the most dedicated athletes to his sport.”
“He is always giving everything—mentally, physically and emotionally,” continued Wolfley.
Despite this setback, Wolfley was proud to say that Coelho has continued to demonstrate “high character” and that his academic success has secured him a spot into any college in the nation. The coach was even more excited to report that as of Wednesday, Coelho’s tumor miraculously shrunk by five centimeters.
“He is very dear to all the Pitman faithful,” said Wolfley. “We’re excited to see where he ends up.”
Coelho’s perseverance was what earned him one of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Impact Athlete Awards that was bestowed by Wolfley and Central Valley FCA Director Ron “Pup” Nelson Thursday morning at the third annual Harvest Bowl Breakfast.
Hosted by PHS FCA and PHS football, the event gave PHS and THS athletes a chance to join together in prayer and enjoy a free breakfast before the highly anticipated 12th annual Turlock Lion’s Club Harvest Bowl matchup tonight. Although Turlock Christian High School is not a contender in the Harvest Bowl, a number of the school’s student athletes attended the breakfast as well.
“The Harvest Bowl does not belong to the people sitting in the bleachers, the Harvest Bowl belongs to you guys,” Wolfley told students. “Tomorrow night is your time to play that game to honor God—honor the one who gave you the ability to play.”
Other FCA Impact Athlete Award recipients on Thursday included THS student and football player Christopher Silva, who has managed to maintain an excellent GPA and position as the student vice president; PHS student and volleyball player Marlowe Embry, who is the junior defensive specialist and outside hitter; and TCHS student Manuel Preciado, who participates in multiple sports and holds several records.
This year’s breakfast also featured guest speaker, Siaki-Sean Samuelu, who relayed his story and his relationship with God to the student athletes. While playing football at Fresno High School and Fresno City College, Samuelu found himself failing on the field and in the classroom.
“I fell into a depression and I was lost for a while,” said Samuelu. “I was in a rut and I was just blaming God. There was so much promise for me coming out of high school and this is all he had planned for me.”
Over the next year, Samuelu said that he became closer to God by visiting the FCA huddle at his old high school and getting encouragement from young student athletes like himself. Samuelu said that his faith was rewarded when he got the opportunity to play professional football in France for three years.
“I had the chance to go back, but that’s not my calling anymore,” said Samuelu. “My calling is to be here. My calling is to be part of FCA.”