SCHOLAR ATHLETES: Rankin’s Rios not afraid to speak his mind

Rankin’s Ben Rios has never been afraid to speak his mind and recognizes that a lot of people look up to him because of that.

That mentality has stuck with him whether he’s competing in athletics or trying to get his work done in the classroom.

As he prepares to graduate and begin the next chapter of his life, Rios said that he’ll take one big lesson away moving forward.

“Get things done on time,” Rios said. “That would be the biggest lesson I’ve learned.”

Rios had to be able to do plenty of time management as he competed in football, basketball, tennis, track and cross country.

Academically, he was involved in National Honor Society and participating with a state champion UIL One-Act Play group.

In order to keep up with everything, Rios said he always had to communicate clearly with his teachers and coaches as to what he had to take care of.

“The teachers would understand how I would have to balance everything and work with them to stay on top of everything,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I got my work done.”

Head football coach Garret Avalos saw what it took for Rios to balance everything, as well as step up as one of the leaders on the team.

“One thing that we love about Ben is that he’s one of those guys that’s full of energy and is very vocal,” Avalos said. “He’s got a great work ethic and you see that in everything he does.”

That work ethic has also earned him plenty of accolades.

Rios was a two-time all-state selection as a wide receiver for a Red Devils team that has made deep postseason runs each of the last two years.

In basketball, he helped Rankin make a run to the Class 1A regional semifinals.

He’s also qualified for state twice in cross country and was an integral part of Rankin finishing in second place at the Class 1A state track meet in Austin.

He competed in the triple jump and the 800-meter relay at this year’s state meet.

Rios said that making it to the state meet was one of the most rewarding parts of his athletic career.

“It was great and it was something that you don’t forget,” he said. “I’m glad that I got to make it out there before I graduated.”

Avalos added another aspect about Rios that stands out is how he is that role model for the younger kids in his program.

They recognize him as a leader and person to emulate in order to achieve their goals.

“You’re going to know exactly what he’s feeling and thinking,” Avalos said. “He’s done a great job of leading our school the right way on and off the field

That’s something that Rios learned from his two older sisters and Avalos.

He plans to attend Angelo State in the fall to study Exercise Science, eventually becoming a coach.

Rios credits Avalos for helping him find his way.

“He was our first coach and he’s seen us grown up through the program,” Rios said. “He’s a great coach and a role model for me.”

Avalos said that he’s looking forward to seeing what Rios will do in college and beyond.

As for what he thinks of his future plans, Avalos added that he’s got the right tools to become a successful coach.

“Every once in a while, you meet a kid that you know will be a really good coach and I think he’s one of those,” he said. “He’s super competitive and likes to bring the best out of people and I think he’d make a great coach one day.”

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