When deciding to play football beyond high school two years ago, Hays High alumnus Emmanuel Galvan-
Vazquez made a promise to his parents that he’d handle the cost.
It was an idea they all knew would be much easier said than done. Galvan-Vazquez, the eldest of three children and a first-generation college student, opted to walk on to the Texas State University football team with little to no financial backing.
But for Galvan-Vazquez, putting that financial burden on his parents wasn’t an option. He made it his mission to ensure those stiff college tuition bills didn’t impact his family’s bottom line.
After two-plus years of hard work and sacrifice, Galvan-Vazquez completed his mission when he was rewarded July 3 with a scholarship covering the cost of his final two years of schooling.
It was a joyous and groundbreaking moment that was the culmination of blood, a whole lot of sweat and a few tears.
“I told my parents I could take care of myself,” Galvan-Vazquez said. “My parents don’t make as much money as others. My parents also don’t speak English. I just wanted to be an example that I can do it.”
That mindset came from his upbringing – that you work hard and support your family. Both of Galvan-Vazquez’ parents emigrated to the U.S. when they were younger to find jobs that could help support their families in Mexico. Many of his cousins and other relatives also entered the workforce at a young age.
However, Galvan-Vazquez’ mother urged him and his siblings to continue to play sports and to obtain a higher education. She ultimately didn’t want them to follow a similar path as their family and focus solely on money.
Galvan-Vazquez became the first in his immediate family to finish high school when he graduated from Hays High in 2017. He did so after overcoming a major language barrier. Galvan-Vazquez didn’t fully learn the English language until the 6th grade.
It was in football that he excelled. While in high school, Galvan-Vazquez, a standout defensive lineman, earning a myriad of accolades and superlative accomplishments.
However, making the choice to walk on to the Texas State football team also meant having to juggle the life of a student-athlete with the rigors of trying to make a living.
Over the course of two-plus years, Galvan-Vazquez worked three jobs, all on a part-time basis. During the fall and winter breaks, Galvan-Vazquez worked at an area Home Depot in order to save some money for his tuition bills. He also worked as a busboy at Chavelo’s Mexican Restaurant, owned by his cousin, on weekends during the spring.
Between it all was the task of preparing himself for life on the field and in the classroom, which meant managing rigorous workouts and attending classes.
Despite the balancing act, Galvan-Vazquez welcomed the experience. It was something he wanted to do.
“It was a grind,” Galvan-Vazquez said. “I listened to my coaches and what they told me to do and gave 100 percent from school to work and football as well. I did everything I could.”
Galvan-Vazquez wanted to prove himself on the field, too.
That process came with a handful of hard knocks along the way. On the first day of full pads with the Bobcats, Galvan-Vazquez suffered a shoulder injury. The Bobcat coaching staff, then helmed by former coach Everett Withers, redshirted Galvan-Vazquez in his freshman season. The experience made him realize he needed to get bigger and stronger and to take care of his body.
He also had to adjust to the faster pace of the college game, which was far different than what he experienced at Hays High.
Setbacks continued into his sophomore season in 2018 when a dislocated elbow suffered during fall camp knocked him out for six weeks.
It was the encouragement of a position coach that galvanized Galvan-Vazquez to overcome the injury and get to where he wanted to be.
“I remember this one time, our position coach at the time after the injury told me I needed to force him to play me when I came back,” Galvan-Vazquez said. “I took that to heart.”
That encouragement fueled Galvan-Vazquez to go from the practice squad to eventually playing in seven games and recording six tackles last season.
That effort led Texas State’s coaching staff, now headed by Jake Spavital, to offer Galvan-Vazquez the scholarship. He got the call as he was driving back from a summer class he was taking at Austin Community College.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders and my parents,” Galvan-Vazquez said. “Once I heard that (I got the scholarship), I hung up and was yelling in my car. I was excited.”
Setting an example for his siblings and his family is what Galvan-Vazquez hopes he has accomplished. He also hopes his story can offer hope for those who are first-generation Americans, minorities, English language learners or those who come from humble means.
“It’s knowing that it doesn’t matter if your parents can’t always help you financially, but to keep the mindset to do what you want,” Galvan-Vazquez said. “If I can do it, everyone can do it too.”