Many high school athletes in Texas say they love the game of football, but Grey Wolves senior Mike Santos-Adames’ passion for the sport is on a whole other level.
Looking for the chance to make a name for himself, and the opportunity to pursue the game at the collegiate level, Santos made a life-changing decision based on the sport at just 17 years old.
After living with his mother and younger sister in Germany, where his mom has been stationed in the Army for the past five years, Santos decided to move to the state that loves the game for the chance to play at the next level.
“My mom and sister are still in Germany,” he said. “They decided to send me out here with my godfamily so I can try and make something out of it.”
A cross-Atlantic move is a big choice for a senior in high school, especially considering Santos has played the sport for just one complete season.
“I actually just started playing football my junior year of high school,” he admitted. “I was living in Germany and I made All-European and played in the All-American game.
“I figured that if I kept pursuing it I could go further, so I came to the best football state to try and chase my dream.”
Santos admits the choice to move wasn’t easy considering the close relationship he has with his family.
“It was really hard, especially because it’s always been my mom, my sister and me,” he said.
“We all have a really good relationship with each other so it was really hard to leave them behind.
“But my mom is really supportive and she knew that me staying out in Germany there would be no way that I’d be in the position I’m in now.”
With a once in a lifetime opportunity at stake, Santos remembers what his mother told him: “If it’s for your future, you should go and pursue it.”
So he took the leap.
The idea to move back to the States first came when Santos attended the All-American game in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Initially, he started at running back before the coach moved him to defensive end.
“He just kind of threw me in the game and coached me along the way,” Santos recalled. “After the game he said, ‘You have a lot of talent you haven’t tapped into yet,’ so that really motivated me.”
And while he admits most seniors in high school don’t know what they want to do in life, it was the exact opposite for him.
“I just want to do what I can to further my chances of getting a degree, and also play football and try to push it even further,” Santos said. “And always watching one of my favorite teams, like Clemson or something. I’m now in a place where it’s like, that’d be cool if I was there one day in that position.
“Especially coming here to play football, I know it’s a huge thing — in some parts of Texas they live, breathe and die football out here — so just thinking about being able to play under Friday Night Lights in Texas, that’s just crazy to me.”
Santos has also found himself in familiar territory since coming to Shoemaker.
“I actually didn’t know they were on a losing streak,” he said. “They had a little magazine in the summer and I was looking at the position in our district and we were last, so everyone here wants to prove themselves.
“In Germany, I had came from a school called Kaiserslautern or “K-Town” and we hadn’t won any games either, so I know what it’s like to go through a winless season despite all effort.”
But for Santos, he just sees another opportunity to pursue.
“I’m just coming into a program that wants to win, and me being here is helping them.”
Having the chance to help the Grey Wolves break their streak also fits into what Santos loves most about football.
“The game days are always fun,” he noted. “But everything leading up to the game day is fun as well.”
From the brotherhood bonds he’s created to the team chemistry that continues to evolve as the season progresses, Santos enjoys it all, but the opportunity to be coached and learn is what drives him to play the game.
“It’s wanting to come to practice every day, it’s more than just going through the motions just to play,” he explained. “It’s actually having a reason, a purpose.”
The reason for Santos is knowing the sacrifices he’s made will be worth it in the end.
“I also just want to make my mom proud,” he said. “I came here for a reason — to continue to play, continue to get better every week for the team and win some games for Shoemaker.”
And while he strives to make his school, his teammates and his mother proud, he always keeps his family heritage in mind as he prepares to take the field.
“I have a bracelet. I don’t know the entire history of it, but I’ve had it with me for as long as I remember,” he said, as he held up his right wrist to show off the brown-beaded bracelet. “So before and after every game I kiss it.
“I’m Dominican, so where I come from your last name is a big thing. I don’t really pray but I praise the name Santos and hope to bring honor on them, so I kiss it and ask to be blessed every game.”
On the field, he strives to make his school proud by improving each game.
“I pride myself on being a coachable person,” Santos said. “I think any coach can come up to me and say whatever they need to, knowledge-wise, and I’m going to soak it up and put it to practice on the field.
“I think it’s the most important thing. You should always gain more knowledge in what you’re doing, and if people have higher skills, especially a coach, they always have something to offer. That’s why they’re coaches.”
With his eyes set on helping Shoemaker break its 27-game losing streak, there’s only one other goal he’s continuing to work toward achieving each day.
“I want to get recruited. I haven’t got any offers yet, so that’s a big goal.”