South Dade linebacker Bryan Valdes is looking forward to the next step.
Valdes signed with Clarke University, a NAIA school in Dubuque, Iowa.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Valdes said. “I’ve been waiting to commit and get offered. Once I got that offer I just took off with it. I’ve got a chance to go play ball at the next level.”
Valdes, a sixth-place finisher on South Dade’s state championship wrestling team, did not have the opportunity to visit the campus because of the pandemic. Instead, he participated in an online virtual tour.
“The online experience was pretty good,” Valdes said. “I got to see the dorm rooms, the school, weight rooms, lobbies, game rooms, academic classes--everything that they would show me in person.”
Clarke head coach Miguel Regalado was helpful throughout the recruiting process, which aided in convincing Valdes to take a leap and sign without a trip to Dubuque.
“I was sending my film out and the coach texted me saying, ‘I’ve got a spot for you,’” Valdes said. “He was always a nice coach. He told me if anything bigger comes, take it. He was being more of an extra helper to me. He was just there. I would text him and he would text me back. Anything I asked or any questions, he answered them. It was a fast process. When I told him I wanted to join the Pride, it was a quick process.”
Valdes enjoyed a successful senior year at South Dade, where he spent his first two years before transferring to Southwest as a junior. He became a starter on the Bucs’ 7-4 playoff team.
“We knew the potential, it was just part of the process of waiting your turn,” South Dade head coach Nate Hudson said. “When he came back he increased tremendously. He was somebody as a player who I could confine in as a coach if I needed to vent and keep the locker room where it needed to be. He was a player who stepped up and met the challenge. I’m extremely proud of him. He’s a hard-worker and tough, mentally and physically.”
After the football season Valdes turned his focus to be a part of the Bucs’ wrestling dynasty. He had a 46-15 record and took sixth place at 170 pounds at the 3A championship meet.
“Wrestling was amazing,” Valdes said. “My whole life I always tried to figure out why I didn’t take wrestling more serious, but I saw towards the end I should have taken it a little more serious. Everybody figures out things later in time. It was just fun. Me and my brother just did this. We’re football players, but wrestling was something we liked so we just did it.”
Despite the school year ending with classes held online, it was a successful senior year.
“My senior year started off perfect,” Valdes said. “The football season went great, the wrestling season went great. I always wanted to be on the varsity team at South Dade on the football and wrestling teams at the same time and I got my shot my senior year. I wanted to keep it going and finish with two state rings, but I only got one.”