Fri Aug 4th, 2017
The Southern Ute Drum
Ignacio High School stand out and All State basketball player, Alex Herrera continues his basketball career overseas where he will be playing this season in Hagen, Germany. At the age of 24 he has played on teams in Australia, Finland and Spain and has traveled to eight countries. Hard work, dedication and surrounding himself with positive, supportive people got him where he is today. With no intention to stop here, he continues to push himself daily to be a better athlete than he was the day before.
Herrera started his basketball journey in his 8th grade year, when he first moved to Ignacio. At the age of 13 he was getting use to his quick growing body. From the start he always had intentions to play at the next level and made his way up the ladder. Starting at JV in Ignacio High School, working up to playing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. and now playing professionally overseas.
In high school he started playing on JV. “He was a little awkward as a freshmen, trying to get used to his body he was not very coordinated,” Ignacio High School Basketball Coach, Chris Valdez said. Sophomore year his athleticism started showing, it wasn’t until his junior year the true athlete came out of him. It didn’t happen over night, the All State athlete worked for it, “Alex never lacked in the willingness to work hard,” Valdez said. During his senior year he was on a team that broke 9-10 state records, and Herrera independently broke the record for rebounds and blocked shots. He had 6-8 triple doubles and a quadruple double game against Ridgeway. During the State Final Four game, the score was close and Valdez called a time out and looked at Herrera telling him, “they don’t respect you, you have to make a play.” He went into the game and hit a 3 pointer and brought his teams energy up to take the win. The team not only went on to break records, but also went undefeated for 23 straight games.
Herrera works day in and day out to be successful and also to be a positive role model in his community. On a daily basis he shoots over 200 practice shots, works on court movements, lifts weights, runs or cycles and most importantly he is mindful of what he eats. In high school he ate a lot and what he wanted then took his eating habits onto college where he put on some pounds, weighing a full 298 lbs. during his redshirt year due to an ankle injury. At that time the coaches gave him an ultimatum to lose the weight or be cut from the team. That was the first time he started eating salad and enrolled in a nutrition class. He started eating more greens and a lot of chicken. What kept him motivated was knowing that he had people reaching out and looking up to him. “I don’t want to be the person that quit and let all the people who have helped me and all the kids who look up to me down,” Herrera said.
His biggest motivator has been his father, Chris Herrera who played for Ignacio and won a 1A State Basketball Championship in 1988. “I always looked up to my dad and worked hard to be better than him and live up to his name,” Herrera said with pride. His coaches along the way have helped build him into the athlete he has become. High School Basketball Coach, Chris Valdez brought the competitive nature out, pushed him daily and has always been a great motivator. In college Herrera gained a lot of knowledge from legendary Fort Lewis College Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Bob Hofman who has been around the game for many years and played with a number of legends himself. Bob Pietrack and Daniel Steffensen, also Fort Lewis coaches, lit the fire in him and had a way of getting the competitiveness out of Herrera. Pietrack and Steffenson also taught him how to take care of his body and helped him study film as often as he needed. “They really shaped me to be who I am today,” Herrera said.
During high school and college, Herrera stayed close and was able to surround himself with friends and family, in juxtaposition to now living in a different country and having to sacrifice important family moments. He continues to stay focused and work hard on a daily basis no matter how hard it gets. Herrera is living his dream doing what he is passionate about and getting paid for it. He continues to work hard not only for himself but also to be a great role model for the youth in his community. Youth involvement has been a huge part of his adult life. “They [youth] are like sponges,” Herrera said. “They see someone who did well in high school, college now overseas and look up to me, it helps me learn as well.”
When he comes back to Colorado he continues to help with camps, high school basketball and local youth looking to improve their game. “The best part, above all, Alex is very soft spoken and humble. He doesn’t hesitate to do things for others, especially kids. He is a great person and comes from a good family,” Coach Valdez said.
Herrera departs for Germany Monday, August 7, to continue his basketball career abroad. He will be playing basketball professionally for Phoenix Hagen through April of next year.