Preparing for high school graduation can be nerve-racking for students who must decide what they plan to do with their future, usually before even getting their diploma.
A large group of students will choose to go the college route and continue their education for two-to-four more years and possibly even more. Some students will go straight into their careers and skip the college experience. Finally, a few brave souls will choose to join the military upon graduation and will go directly into training to learn how to defend their country.
Big Spring’s Dillan Guzman falls into the latter category.
“The first recruiter that I talked to was from the Army,” Guzman said. “He told me all of the benefits and told me all of the stuff that I could have and what would be possible if I chose to go into the Army as my career. He really convinced me and I wanted to go forward and serve my country.”
Serving your country is one of the most honorable things that a United States citizen can do and Guzman is already prepared for the challenge.
After talking to a recruiter last year, Guzman took it upon himself to enlist early and he will be leaving for boot camp in late June. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic madness, Guzman has been preparing himself for his new career that starts in a little over two months.
After coaching him for the past several years, Steers baseball coach Daniel Carrillo believes that Guzman will have no issue making the transition to the Army. The senior played on both the baseball and basketball teams and always gave one hundred percent effort every time that he took that hardwood or the baseball diamond. On the court, Guzman was a tough defender who had the ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. And on the baseball diamond, he was one of the most consistent batters at the plate this past season. In both sports his coaches always knew what kind of effort and energy they were going to get out of Guzman.
“He’s just a grinder,” Carrillo said. “He practices so hard. He just works really, really hard and doesn’t say much but he leads by example.”
Guzman, who describes himself as an underdog, will be entering training for the Army in the intelligence analytics field and will need his “grinder” work ethic to adapt to his new role and learn as quickly as possible so that he can excel at his job. After years of taking coaching from Carrillo and Steers basketball coach Kris Hise, Guzman should have no issue adapting to his new environment or learning how to do his job.
How does Carrillo think his versatile player will adapt?
“For Dillan going into the Army, the biggest hurdle is ‘Can you get yourself up and can you do what you have to do everyday?’ I think he can do that and I think that’s why he’ll do great in the Army.”
Guzman added, “I’m really competitive and I think my competitive side will stick with me and I’ll always want to be better than the next guy. I feel like I’m going to be the same competitive guy in the Army that I was in high school.”
During this past shortened baseball season there was something interesting that would happen from the dugout whenever Guzman would get a hit. After Guzman had safely made his way on-base, a group of his teammates would yell and holler from the dugout phrases such as “Army Strong!”
While there was definitely some kind-hearted ribbing from his teammates about his decision to join the Army, Guzman knew that, at its core, their shouting was to show how much they support him.
“Whenever it first started out it was all just joking around,” Guzman said. “But whenever I would actually get a hit and was leading off base I would hear them from the dugout. It made me feel really good and it made me feel like they have my back and they’re supporting me on this journey that I’m going to go through.”
After not playing baseball during his junior year, Guzman regretted the decision and was back on the field this spring. Unfortunately, the season lasted only one month and he was unable to finish out his senior year the way so many athletes about to graduate across the country were also unable to.
Guzman’s final high school sports season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic but he is not dwelling on what he cannot control. For him, it is almost time to put high school in the rearview and begin to focus on his future in the Army. Although his senior year is not ending the way he would have wanted, Guzman is handling it in stride.
His underdog mentality is sure to stick with him and no one expects anything other than success from Guzman down the road.
That includes himself.
“If I want to do something, I’m going to do it and no matter how long it’s going to take me or how hard it’s going to be, I’m going to do it.”
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.