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TRIPP'S TRIPPIN': Onetime Cardinal standout faces his toughest battle

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By Richard Tripp

If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no death; there would be no illness and there would be no war.

But the world is not perfect and unfortunately there are these things and many more. Some people choose to live in the glass is half full, half empty world. Others believe the world is against them, while others choose to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

In the world of Sean Peres one can make an argument that the world is against him, but to Sean, the world is like a running back breaking into the defensive backfield and taking on tacklers head on.

Thirty-one-year-old Sean was an outstanding football player at Robertson. The 1995 Cardinal graduate had his career game against the Espaola Sundevils when he rushed for 176 yards on 10 carries. He also recalls playing against Los Alamos on a cold, rainy night, not to mention his 15 yards per carry average. So far so good, right? Sean was a Robertson catalyst in the backfield. A big, strong athlete who could take on linebackers, and yet a person with a heart of gold.

Sean recalls his memories of his high school playing days as, “Wow, fond memories. So many. Forging life-long friendships. The bonds we made together and the sacrifices we endeavored.”

After graduation, Sean found he had a itch to coach. He returned to his alma mater and asked his former coach Art Abreu for the opportunity to assist in the Cardinals’ football program, where he coached on and off for several years. To Sean, coaching could not be better: “Nothing can be more of an accomplishment than watching children you coach become fine young men.”

A few years later, Sean, with the advice of a friend, became the president of the Las Vegas Little League. Why? “A friend, Antonio Padilla, told me the league needed help. Since I have past experience with non-profits, and the league was close to home, I decided to help out.”

As for Sean’s personal life, things could not be better. He and his wife Jolene have three beautiful children, Mariah (8), David (7) and Michael (4). He is the son of Homer Dave and Aiti Peres, and he has eight siblings.

Those who know Sean will give you the old “he is the type of person who’d give you the shirt off his back” speech. No, Sean would not give you the shirt off his back. He will buy you a shirt if need be. Sean is the type of person who is a giver. He is a person of good nature and well-respected by many. This could be something instilled by his parents. As he says, “My parents always taught me the importance of family and friends. We must go back to the days that we can trust and love each other.”

So why does what I’m about to mention have to happen to such a great guy? Why does it appear bad happens to good?

About a year and a half ago, Sean was resting in his bed when suddenly, “A severe pain shot through my right chest and would not go away,” he says. “I had my wife drive me to the hospital and they told me.”

What they told Sean was not the type of news any person is expecting to hear. Sean was diagnosed with liver cancer.

“I was scared at first, then, I looked at it like anything else. Back up and let’s get this thing fixed,” he said.

Now how many of us would have the this mindset? Not many, but Sean and his wife Jolene, did back up and sat down and drew up a plan of attack. It appears the coaching instincts took over. Come up with a game plan and attack. The couple has traveled to Dallas on a number of occasions and are talking about traveling overseas to seek answers for a cure. They are currently looking into traveling to Mexico to seek treatment as well.

So how does Sean keep his spirits pumping? “Spirits are high, at least keeping it in high gear. But I have three lovely children, a wonderful wife and many people on my support team.”

Speaking of teams, Sean has a few words for his alma mater (Robertson) as to the situation the district is currently going through: “It is truly unfortunate. I would like to extend my hand to anyone who wants to talk and who needs to talk. The community is behind you and Las Vegas loves you. If you still feel frustrated or angered, take it out between the white lines. We are here for you.”

When I sat down and talked with Sean, it appeared the situation at Robertson did appear to bother him deeply. He was eager to open up. He truly showed a great compassion for all the parties involved. Through all he is going through, he is deeply saddened by the developments. And why? Because of the student-athletes.

As I generally do with interviews, I like to ask for any last words. Sean adds, “When Paul Newman passed away, I looked up into the sky and thought about my father and all the movies we watched with Newman in them. Nothing but happy thoughts came to me. I hope my children will think of something and have a smile like that. Is that too much for a father to ask for?”

No, Sean, that is not much; in fact, it is not enough. Regardless of what the future holds for Sean and his family, we may not live in a perfect world, and we may sometimes feel we have been cheated in some way, but those who know Sean can say the world “is” a better place because of Sean.

•••

I want to give a shout-out to the graduating class of 1968 from West Las Vegas. That is right, 40 wonderful years since you donned the green and gold. This weekend the class is celebrating its 40-year class reunion. Remember these names; in 1968 West won its first state title, beating Gadsden 2-0. What some may not know is that the Dons were a near no-show at the state tournament. West beat St. Mike’s in a one-game playoff, as Carlos Montoya threw a one-hitter. Here is a trivia question for you and for those who listen to me and Steve Sandoval Friday night as the Dons play Santa Fe Indian School. You may get this same question as part of our halftime trivia question. Who was the senior class president in 1968? Hints: Well-established Las Vegas businessman near the old-town Plaza. Has served on the WLV school board for many years.

•••

Last thought today. I walked into Gambles Department Store earlier this week and I was asked by Gambles’ owner Mr. Valdez, as I call him, as to why the Albuquerque television stations did not report the Robertson football score after the Cardinals beat Taos. After all, he said, they sure have been here a lot to cover other Robertson happenings. Very, very true, Mr. Valdez. So here is a shout-out to the Robertson Cardinals football team and head coach Richard Martinez. Great win over Taos. Like Sean, a former Cardinal, life has thrown you a curve and you are handling it like champions. Good luck this week in your homecoming game vs. Ruidoso.

Tripp — out!

Richard Tripp is a longtime local educator who writes sports stories for the Optic.