CONCORD, CA (Feb. 22, 2022) — Perez was inspired to join the wrestling team because of her freshman year P.E. class wrestling unit. During the unit, the school’s head coach Kyle Behmlander and several of his athletes demonstrated a variety of wrestling moves to the class. At first, Perez thought wrestling was awkward and embarrassing, but support from her dad motivated her to try it out. And it paid off right away. She competed on junior varsity that year. Behmlander says, “As a frosh, she and her practice partner, Mia Tolentino, both won hardest worker trophies.”
Now finishing her third year on Ugly Eagles varsity, her coach has nothing but good things to say about the dedicated student athlete. “As a sophomore she wrestled against boys in dual meets and once she fought off her back to reverse and pin her opponent. She gets really good grades and has become a leader as a senior. I expect good things from her at North Coast Section this weekend. I also think she’s going to be successful at whatever she becomes because she is such a competitor and works so hard.”
Grit and grind
Perez was awarded that Grit and Grind award alongside Tolentino, representing their resilience, perseverance and commitment to the sport. She originally had no intention of staying with the sport, but Perez quickly discovered her love for wrestling. Perez says that her favorite part about being an athlete and being able to represent Clayton Valley Charter is the amazing people she has met and the strong relationships she has formed with her teammates, including Tolentino, Sofia Lovelace, Melina Boldovino and DAL champion Andre Dargani (No. 1 seed at NCS 147 pounds), who continuously pushed her to become a better athlete and made practice, tournaments and activities enjoyable.
She’s also thankful for her coaches Behmlander and Chris Gonzo, who pushed her to her limits and taught her to believe in herself. They motivated Perez to want to become a better wrestler, which made her stronger both physically and mentally. She also thanks her mom and dad for coming to every tournament they could, for supporting her always and for standing by her side even through the mental and physical challenges that come with the sport of wrestling.
Perez attributes her success on the mat to her background in hula dancing. She was schooled in the art of Hawaiian heritage and dance as well as Hawaiian culture teaching her important life lessons of discipline, balance and dedication. Perez’s determination to succeed is also portrayed by her academic achievements with a 4.2 GPA.
She participates in Filipino American Club, Senior Women and CVCHS Arts Academy. Perez’s college plans include attending the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she will major in art and will hopefully pursue a career in photography. She hopes that her photography career takes her across the world, as one of her greatest passions is learning and experiencing all types of cultures.
CVCHS student journalist Katherine Pugh wrote this Spotlight.
The Pioneer congratulates Amaia and thanks Athlete Spotlight sponsors Dr. Laura Lacey & Dr. Christopher Ruzicka who have been serving the Clayton and Concord area for over three decades at Family Vision Care Optometry.
Do you know a young athlete who should be recognized? Perhaps he or she has shown exceptional sportsmanship, remarkable improvement or great heart for the sport. Email your nomination for the Pioneer Athlete Spotlight today.
Katherine Pugh is a junior at Clayton Valley Charter High School. She enjoys running on the CVCHS cross country team in the fall in addition to the track and field team in the spring. Pugh also swims recreationally for Oakhurst Country Club in the summer. She is a part of the CVCHS Engineering & Design academy and finished her sophomore year with a 4.33 GPA. She’s also excited to be a representative for CVCHS’s ASB leadership group during her junior year. In addition, Pugh works as a hostess at Ed’s Mudville Grill in Clayton. She is very excited to be writing the Student Athlete Spotlight for the Concord Clayton Pioneer.