For Anthony Maldonado, the opportunity to play sports at the collegiate level was a true team effort. However, that team was his family.
Maldonado, a two-sport athlete at Del Rio High School, signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Dallas, a private Catholic university in Irving. Athletically, the school competes in NCAA Division III as part of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Flanked by family members including parents Mary Ann and Brian Maldonado, brother Jonathan Maldonado, and sisters Andrea and Brianna Maldonado, Maldonado was all smiles as he took in the event and celebrated the opportunity to take his athletic accomplishments to the next level.
Maldonado was an all-district baseball player each of the last two seasons. He was a second-team selection as a junior and a unanimous first-team selection this season. He was also voted as the Del Rio Rams’ Most Valuable Player each of the past two seasons.
The speedy outfielder, and one of the team’s top offensive weapons, Maldonado’s path to the University of Dallas came through highlights and stats compiled by his family. His father, Brian, said they sent out dozens of the highlight packages to different schools and heard back from only one school – the University of Dallas. Maldonado said they showed genuine interest in his son and offered him a spot.
Rams head baseball coach Nick Mendez praised Maldonado for his work ethic and spoke of when he first met his future all-district ballplayer.
“There’s a ton of things we can say about him. He told me about himself before he played and it was prophetic. He proved himself right,” Mendez said. “He never backed down from anyone. He wasn’t intimidated by any pitcher. If the guy threw hard, a lot of times he would just say I’m going to swing earlier or swing harder.”
Mendez also relayed the story of Maldonado crashing into the wall at The Bank & Trust Ram Field while chasing a fly ball and how he was afraid the senior had been broken in half on the play.
“I ran out there, like an idiot, while the ball was still in play, and I checked on him and all he could say was, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I said, ‘You just hit a wall.’” Mendez said. “He asked if he could stay in and I told him no and helped him back to the dugout. A few minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned and it was Anthony and he said, ‘Coach, my dad said I could play. Can I go back in?’ I told him if it was okay by his dad then okay and he went back out there and finished the game. That’s just the type of kid he was.”
Mendez added that Maldonado’s work ethic and tough as nails attitude would aid help as he played baseball collegiately.
“That’s what we’re passing on to the University of Dallas. That’s what we’re most proud of,” Mendez said. “I challenge you to stay the same. Stay driven, tell them what you’re going to do and go out and do it. Go out and make us proud,” Mendez said.
Maldonado thanked his family, teammates and coaches for all they’d done for him to get him to where he was today.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for everything I’ve done and everything He’s put into my life. I want to thank family for always being supportive and never giving up on me. There have been many ups and downs but you all never left my side,” Maldonado said.
“To my brother thank you for always being my role model and the man I look up to. Ever since we were little you took me under your wing and made sure I was on the right path. Thank you for always showing me what a true leader should be,” he continued.
“To my mom and dad, thank you for making me the man I am today and will be in the future. I owe it all to you two. Thank you for always believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You have always pushed me to become a better athlete and a better man and I am thankful for it. Everything I have ever done in life has always been to make you two proud,” he said.
“To my teammates, it’s been a crazy ride. Thank you for four memorable years that I’ll always cherish. I’ll never forget the memories and stories we have to tell,” Maldonado said.
“Lastly, I want to thank my coaches. It was an honor to play for you all, and I want to thank you for pushing me past my limits and everything you have instilled in me. I’m excited to show my new coaches and teammates what you’ve taught me and what I can do. Thank you, and go Crusaders,” Maldonado concluded.