Road to Success: Keenan Valverde paves the way for the Bluejays
PIERCE, Neb. — As the Bluejays gear up for a northeast Nebraska showdown against Wayne, a separate cause will be highlighted during the game.
As Pierce prepares for the game on Friday, some helmets will be seen with a yellow sticker for a cause that is close to senior running back, Keenan Valverde.
“I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was two-years-old and ever since then, I’ve gone back every year to get checkups but I’m all good now,” Valverde said.
While Valverde does not remember much from that time, he said his parents have been with him the whole time.
“This Friday, we [Valverde’s parents] made buttons raising [awareness] for childhood cancer,” Valverde said. “On a lot of our helmets, we have a yellow sticker to raise awareness for it.”
Alongside his story, Pierce runs with Valverde in a different way than most teams.
“This year we changed a little bit,” Valverde said. “We’ve done a straight snap to me instead of having a hand off which gets us to the line a bit faster. I think it gets us a little more momentum especially with the line. It just gets everything moving a little bit faster.”
The senior running back averages over 160 rushing yards a game for the Bluejays including his 300-yard, four touchdown performance against Scotus Central Catholic.
Pierce Head Coach Darin Suckstorf said Valverde is a perfect fit for the Bluejays in running their offense.
“With him with his small stature, it kind of fits perfect for what we’re trying to do right now,” Suckstorf said. “Give a lot of credit to his teammates also that give him the hole so he can be an athlete that he is.”
The senior gave a piece of advice for anyone going through a similar experience to his.
“I think you just got to keep pushing through it,” Valverde said. “Obviously where I’m at right now, I’m very happy. I think friends and family have helped me a lot so just talk to somebody and you’ll get through it.”