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Socorro Bulldogs receive diplomas: State champs celebrate graduation
June 16, 2009

When the seniors of the Socorro High School baseball team decided to forego their graduation ceremony last month for the playoffs, little did they know they'd gambled on making history.

Written by Darren Meritz, El Paso Times


The senior members of the state champion Socorro High School.

EL PASO -- When the seniors of the Socorro High School baseball team decided to forego their graduation ceremony last month for the playoffs, little did they know they'd gambled on making history.

But that's exactly what 15 Socorro seniors did as they traded the once-in-a-lifetime milestone of high school graduation for the top prize of the Class 5A state baseball championship this season.

Socorro defeated Lufkin, 12-7, in the championship game on Saturday in Round Rock.

Seniors on the team missed their May 23 high school graduation while playing in the regional quarterfinals in Midland.

So the players received their diplomas from the Socorro ISD board of trustees at the District Service Center in a later-than-usual graduation ceremony on Tuesday -- along with accolades and praise from lawmakers, educators, coaches and fans thrilled with the Bulldogs' win last weekend.

"These individuals, these student-athletes, scholar-athletes, deserve a commencement and graduation," Socorro ISD superintendent Xavier De La Torre said at the ceremony. "Be proud of these accomplishments, for tomorrow begins a new chapter."

Tomorrow is coming quickly for the Bulldogs, who finished the season 31-4 and ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Pitcher Bobby Mares is grappling with a decision to either play for Cisco Junior College or the University of New Mexico next semester. Cory Falvey, the state tournament's Most Valuable Player, plans to play at Cisco Junior College.

"We did expect to win it. You can't overlook things. You've got to take it a game at a time," Falvey said after graduating. "Our mental preps for the game were outstanding. We were focused. We were hungry, but we were ready to play at the same time."

The senior Bulldogs this year aren't the first to let the graduation ceremony take a back seat to the baseball playoffs. In 1998, five Socorro seniors skipped their graduation ceremony to play in the regional playoffs in Midland.

Tuesday's ceremony was replete with praise for the Bulldogs. They took home honors from state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, state Rep. Chente Quintanilla and County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr., who thanked the team "for bringing back pride to the valley."

The team also once again enjoyed throngs of supporters, who packed the District Service Center and waved flags and banners as senior members of the team made their walk across the stage.

Like other graduations, Tuesday's commencement marked a symbolic shift for student-athletes, who now are casting an eye toward their futures as they ponder careers and the prospect of playing college ball.

All the more reason for members of the team to savor their historic win, head coach Chris Forbes said.

"I want the kids to understand the impact that this has on El Paso, and have fun with it," he said. "So right now, we just want to enjoy this. This is quite an experience. It's an experience of a lifetime."

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