The Scarlet Scroll

Alumnus heads to represent Team USA in 2018 winter Olympics

Divina Davidds, Staff Reporter

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Courtesy Carlo Valdes

Mater Dei alumnus Carlo Valdes (class of 2008) will be representing Team USA in bobsled at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

As a Monarch, Carlo played football as a wide receiver and safety and competed in track and field. After graduating in 2008, Valdes went on to play UCLA football for one year, then decided to pursue track for the next five years. He was a member of decathlon his first year and threw javelin the next four years.

“Carlo was a true ‘multi-sport’ athlete,” said MD track and field coach Rick Martinez. “He was a starter on the football team and our best sprinter. But he also did the discus for us on track. That was a very unique combination. Usually sprinters do relays and maybe the long jump. Carlo did sprints and the discus throw.”

Before he began training for the Olympics, Valdes was introduced to bobsledding by UCLA track coach Mike Maynard.

Courtesy CROWN Yearbook
Seniors Andrew Abbott, Kaitlyn Soto and Carlo Valdes were voted as “Most Athletic” in the 2008 CROWN Yearbook’s senior superlatives.

“[Maynard] encouraged me to try out and do a combine once I graduated,” Valdes said. “He did the same with a few other of his athletes in the past, and they went on to make the team. …he told me, ‘If they can make it, you can make it.'”

Monarch football Coach Bruce Rollinson is ‘extremely proud’ that Valdes made the bobsled team for the Olympics and Rollinson will be ‘watching and praying for his success.’

“He followed his dreams through football, track, and is now an Olympic athlete and will represent our country,” Rollinson said. “This is what intestinal fortitude and self-confidence can bring you.”

According to Valdes, the sport of bobsledding comes with many dangers “because people can die or get seriously injured while doing this if you’re not careful.” A two-man bobsled usually weighs around 384 pounds with the maximum being 860 pounds and can reach speeds up 93-125 miles per hour. But that doesn’t stop Valdes.

“My favorite thing about bobsled is being able to feel the adrenaline once you step on the start block before going off the hill…” he said. “Being an adrenaline junkie helps if you really want to do bobsled.”

Courtesy Carlo Valdes
Carlo Valdes and his teammates prepare to compete.

After graduating from UCLA, Valdes began his process of competing in bobsled once he completed his first combine. A combine is a test that must be completed and passed in order to continue in training and to further into more competitions. After he completed his combine, Valdes was invited to Rookie Camp and from there got evaluated at the end of the week in a completion with other rookies.

After this, Carlo continued on to the National Push Champs where athletes are again tested. At that point, he was pushing with a broken toe but still managed to succeed. He was chosen to be apart of a team for Team Trials which is the ending of the selection process for the USA National Team. At Team Trials, athletes compete on their own home tracks against each other.

“I did very well for the position I was in and, after Team Trials were done, I was honored to be named to my first National Team as a rookie in 2014,” Valdes said.

Valdes was on four National Teams before being selected for his first Olympic team. To be named on the Olympic team, you must be named on a National Team first. Then, you have to have completed all major competitions, be in good standing with USA Bobsled & Skeleton and have good input from pilots and coaches.

“As you can tell, it’s a very serious process to be selected to an Olympic Team, and having four years under my belt gave me a huge advantage,” Valdes said.

Valdes’ advice for athletes looking to make it to the Olympics is to keep their head down and to work hard in whatever they do.

“Control what you can control and only worry about what you can do. Also, you have to make sure you enjoy and love what you do. If your heart and soul aren’t 100% involved in what you want to do, then it’s not the path for you.”

Courtesy CROWN Yearbook
Andrew Abbot, Matt Barkley, Carlo Valdes and Robbie Boyer pose for a photo with Barkley, the 2007-2008 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year Award.

“The thing I’m looking forward to the most about the Olympics is walking out during Opening Ceremonies knowing the whole world is watching. This is a global event that everyone knows about and loves, and the fact that there will be hundreds of millions of people watching is a pretty cool and unique feeling,” Valdes said.

The Olympics Opening Ceremony airs tonight at 5 p.m. PT on NBC. The games will run through Feb. 25, the day of the Closing Ceremony. Get the full schedule and list of competitions here.

“For a couple weeks, the world will be unified by the Olympics and bring people from different walks of life together because that is what the Olympics is able to do in my opinion,” Valdes said.

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Alumnus heads to represent Team USA in 2018 winter Olympics