“It felt like I had a whole crowd yelling, well there was a whole crowd, but I felt like I was in the NFL,” said Denver Online High School student Randall Mendez, recapping one of his favorite plays of the season. Game changing moments like these made this young athlete realize his passion, saying, “Football pretty much. [You] know, just making it to the pros. I mean it’s not easy. It’s like one percent to get there. But I have hope, and a lot of people have hope in me too.”
The sixteen-year-old reminds us how to dream. “If I make it to the pros, I would literally say like what happened to me: my story,” because stories shaped by adversity make for powerful stories of triumph.
“I wasn’t really having a goal when I was in ninth grade. I was just [you] know, doing [really] bad. Really, really bad,” he said. But with the help of football star, Richard Sherman, the teenager became inspired.
“He’s not the kind of guy to party, like he even says it. He stays home to and studies film and football just so he can get way better. He practices every day,” Mendez expressed about the famous cornerback. “I’m really motivated and he looks really motivated too,” a motivated mindset that has evolved both on the practice field and in academics.
“I play for the Spartans,” he said, playing athletics for Thomas Jefferson High School but attending a different school for his education.
“I chose Denver online so I can have more time to practice,” a common theme for athletes who transfer to Denver Online for its flexibility. He said, “My old school used to start at 7am. I didn’t really have time to wake up, because I like waking up in the morning, just getting my little work out on, and I didn’t really have time for that. So like with Denver Online, I can wake up early and do what I can do and do the work later because I’m pretty good at doing it fast.”
He also has friends there to keep him accountable too, with his two cousins, Mariah and Robert Bradford, as Denver Online High School peers, saying, “We all do Denver Online high school. So we all do it together.”
“The teachers help you a lot. If you’re messing up, you do a bad grade on a test, they’re going to remake you do it for 100%. They want you at 100%. You don’t have to be 100% but it has to be over 80%,” he stated. Because just as great athletes need practice so too do great students.
When you look back at your past, what was the moment that changed everything for you? Mendez remembers his. “[You] know when the broncos won the Super Bowl? I met Brock Osweiler.”
What was said in that moment that made a difference in your life? Mendez reminisced about the words Osweiler told him. “I like asked him, one of these days, I want to make it and play with you. And he told me you could do that. It doesn’t matter how tall you are or how fast you are. It made me emotional what he told me. He just told me you can make it. Just don’t ever think you won’t.”
And that’s precisely what Denver Online tries to instill in every student. Whether it’s graduating high school, attending college, or playing in the NFL, you can make it and we will be cheering for you.