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Every day, the same question reverberates for Los Gatos senior quarterback Alex Grado.
Why not him? Why can’t he shine? Why can’t he go out there and make big plays?
“I think a big, big thing for me is why not?” Grado said. “Why not be successful? Why not do this? You only have so many years in your life. Why not make the most of it, right? So I’m just trying to partly give back to my parents and what they’ve given to me. And my high school coaches, too.”
Grado grew up as a coach’s son and reaped the unique benefits that come along with one’s parent being one of their coaches growing up.
It taught Grado discipline while seeing a different perspective to the game. And although he might have been viewed differently because his father was a coach, he never let that connection lead to benefits without any of the work.
Hard work was always the motto for Grado from a young age, ever since his playing career began in 2012 and 2013.
“And in high school he actually didn’t want to be one of my coaches because he really wanted me to push myself on the field and not just fall back to, ‘Dad, can you let me play this game? And stuff like that,” Grado said. “So he goes up and he’s in the stands and sometimes he announces games and stuff, but he always likes to be up above and watching the field.”
And there’s a certain mold in Grado that separates him from the pack.
“I think grit, moving on to the next play,” Grado said. “In freshman and JV and stuff, that was a little bit tougher for me to understand, but I think through the learning process and everything and just working my butt off I’ve really learned to just say screw it, ball out and don’t give them any reason not to look at you when you’re on the field.”
Working with Dru Brown, a former Los Gatos quarterback who went to the College of San Mateo before playing at Hawaii, Oklahoma State and now the Canadian Football League, Grado is using every piece of help to his advantage while working hard every step of the way.
Brown went through this entire process and mastered the art of being a quarterback at the next level, going from the MVP at the College of San Mateo, which was before he tossed for 5,273 yards and 37 touchdowns in two years at Hawaii, which was before he was voted a team captain at Oklahoma State, which was before he became a professional quarterback.
“He’s really a good example of a mentality that’s rock solid and really believing in yourself to do whatever you can do, and now he’s in the CFL as well,” Grado said. “He was shorter. I’m taller than he is, and I’m not the tallest quarterback ever, but he really taught me how to be disciplined and has actually helped me a lot through this quarantine process.”
Plus, Grado is working with others who are benefiting him throughout this journey.
There are his two parents. His father being a coach every year and being on the sideline. His mother watching every game.
His coaches at Los Gatos. Mark Krail, the Los Gatos head coach who Grado called the best coach he’s ever had. Austyn Carta-Samuels, a former assistant at the University of Missouri from Bellarmine who is now running LockedInQB.
“My mom was always in the stands rooting me on,” Grado said. “Through Pop Warner, my dad was one of my coaches every single year, which was pretty awesome to have him on the sidelines and stuff. I really respected him for not putting me in the starting position every single year and actually making me work for a starting spot rather than just being the coach’s son who gets all the love and everything. I really thank him for that now. Maybe back then I wanted to play a little bit, but I got my play time and learned how to work hard because of him.
“And then another person, coach Austyn Carta-Samuels, the LockedIn QB coach. I’ve connected with him, Dru Brown and stuff, and studied film with him. He’s just been a really, really good energy to be around. He’s always up and jumping, like ‘Let’s get at it today.’”
During this extended offseason, Grado’s growth has him eager for more at Los Gatos as he takes over the reins of the quarterback spot after Yost Girvan, who graduated, threw for 1,714 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while running for 609 yards and six touchdowns.
Grado said he’s ensured he’s gained confidence in each throw he makes, also making strides in his speed, strength and efficiency.
Not only that, but Grado grew as a leader – a trait he’s excelled at for years in Los Gatos, a city where everyone grew up together and played all kinds of sports with each other from birth.
“So we just kind of all have fallen into our positions on the team and we just kind of work together,” Grado said. “For me specifically, I really saw that I could be a positive influence on a lot of the team and stuff and helping guys up because I’m a positive energy guy. I try to be optimistic about everything in my life, and I think that reflects a lot on the football field.”
Grado, who completed 3 of 5 passes for 58 yards and ran for a score as a junior, is hearing from numerous junior college programs and reaching out to everyone – positing videos on his social media page, following coaches on Twitter, messaging coaches and emailing as many as possible.
All he wants for his senior year, though, is for everyone, all of his Wildcat brothers to shine in a program steeped in success and one coming off a Central Coast Section Division II title a year ago.
“I hope that everybody has a good season, balls out,” Grado said. “I can trust my guys. I think they can trust me, and we just got. We’re not a team. We’re brothers.”
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