2014 Inductees

Chris & Eddie Canales

A true hero is one who gives of themselves to help others, one who is compassionate, selfless and puts others needs before their own.

 

Chris Canales, co-founder of Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation, is one such hero. Since its inception in 2003, Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation has helped countless athletes whose athletic careers were cut short due to a devastating injury few talked about and far too many had seen. For Canales and his family, this issue was far too important to ignore.

On November 2, 2001, Chris Canales, a senior defensive back playing for San Marcos Baptist Academy, sustained a spinal cord injury during the fourth quarter of his final regular season game. Chris lay motionless on the field for 19 minutes. The next three weeks, Chris fought for his life. The following months he battled through rehabilitation trying to gain movement and learning how to function as a quadriplegic. Chris’ injury and the lack of any organized support system for families prompted his father, Eddie Canales, the Canales family, and former coach Mike Kipp to begin discussions about the desperate need for an organization for families who were forced to deal with the consequences of this devastating injury. In November of 2002, Chris and Eddie were in attendance at the Texas 3A State Championship football game in the Alamodome, in San Antonio. There they witnessed another spinal cord injury. This time it was Everman defensive back, Corey Fulbright. Chris turned to his Dad and said, “We need to go and help them. I know what he (Corey) is going to go through, and you know what the family will have to go through.” Inspired by the compassion of Chris, Eddie and Mike Kipp formed Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation. Articles of Incorporation were filed in February of 2003, and a 501(C) 3 Tax exempt status was obtained in May of the same year. Through a grant written by Eddie & his dad, Coach Robert M. Canales, funds received helped kick-off its first year.

Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation’s mission is clear, to provide immediate, as well as, long term resources and support to individuals sustaining catastrophic spinal cord injury through activities associated with high school football.

As word spread of this inspiring and unique non-profit organization, more and more athletes reached out to this organization for help. Now, Gridiron Heroes reaches out to help victims nationwide. There have been others who suffered this similar injury in the past. Unfortunately and inevitably there will be more. Rest assured that Gridiron Heroes will be there for the next family who finds themselves in this life-changing situation. 


Mario Garcia

Call him the "Duke of the Diamond".

When the Laredo Times crowned Mario Garcia the 1974 High School Batting Champion, little did anyone know that the Nixon High School standout would bring home-run glory to the community, leading the Alexander High School Bulldogs Baseball team to 12 winning seasons, culminating in impressive district, regional and state recognition.

For Garcia, it’s a combination of the love of the game, the challenges of coaching and the joys of working with youngsters that drives him. Prior to becoming Alexander’s head baseball coach. Garcia taught at what is now Laredo Community College, the Laredo Job Corps Center and United High School, instilling in his students the same dedication and discipline he teaches on the diamond. While baseball remains his first love, Garcia also served as an assistant football coach at Lamar Middle School, United High School and Alexander High School, before taking on the reins of the Bulldogs’ baseball program in 2008.

Under his leadership, the Bulldogs have become perennial championship contenders, most recently as the 2013 5A State Region IV Quarterfinalists. In 2011 and 2012, the Bulldog Baseball Team earned back to back trips to the 5A State Regional IV Finalist “Elite Eight” division. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the Bulldogs also made consecutive appearances in the State Playoffs as District Finalists. All told, Garcia holds a record of 257-career baseball wins, as well as multiple designations as Coach of the Year for the All District and All City Teams for six years.

As numerous as the awards, titles and accolades are, Garcia considers his greatest accomplishment to be watching his players succeed on and off the diamond. The championship runs have made the youngsters more focused and dedicated in their post-high school endeavors. While many have found success in the collegiate diamond, others have gone on to graduate from college and prosper in their own right. Whatever path these baseball players may take, they know that home plate bears the name of Mario Garcia.


Linda Alvarado

Linda Alvarado

First Latina owner of a MLB team and an industry leader in the field of construction, Alvarado proves that with perseverance, anyone can accomplish the impossible.

 

Truly a pioneer for women everywhere, Alvarado has made a significant impact in an otherwise male dominated world, taking on gender-bending roles that have converted this minority into one of the most successful business entrepreneurs in her industry. Her story serves as an inspiration to women and Latinos everywhere. Growing up in a low-income household in a family of six children, Alvarado learned early on the value of hard work. She worked her way through school and in 1969 began working part-time in construction sites, taking on a male dominated industry. Her hard work and dedication, slowly earned her the respect from her male colleagues, despite her gender and ethnic background.

Tired of being harassed and discouraged to pursue her passion, long considered a “man’s job”, Alvarado set out to prove she had what it takes to succeed. In 1974 she borrowed money from her parents to start her own company. Armed with a business plan and will to do the “impossible” she started up her own construction business, which she slowly grew from the ground up, despite all odds. Now, a powerhouse in her field, Alvarado has built more than 60 multi-million projects around the world and continues to be one of the top leaders in the industry. Alvarado is founder and sole owner of Alvarado Construction, a commercial general contractor, construction management and design/build firm in Denver, Colorado; President of Palo Alto Inc., and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club.

In 1992 Alvarado made history as the first Latino (male or female) owner of a Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies. This also marked the first time a woman was in a bid for ownership of a major league franchise. Alvarado, along with her husband, Robert, founded Palo Alto Inc. which operates 150 franchise restaurants. Alvarado set the standard high for young women everywhere and serves as an inspirational role model. Her message, “if it’s never been done, then it is possible to do” keeps her at the top of everyone’s list of most influential and inspiring Latinos.


Frank Gonzalez

After 27 seasons, 256 wins, 5 consecutive championships and 18 titles garnered during his extraordinary 27-year tenure as head coach of the Borregos Salvajes, Frank Gonzalez, leaves behind an amazing legacy of success that will forever cement his name in football history.

From 1985 to 2013, Gonzalez was unstoppable, a legacy in his own right. A force to be reckoned with; he helped train a little over 1,000 athletes, and together, they beat out some of the best teams in Mexico’s history. Recruiting only the best of the best, Gonzalez served as Head Coach for Borregos Salvajes, an American football team from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, a privately managed higher education institution in Monterrey, Mexico. He ruled with an iron fist and a lot of heart and his players responded. Borregos Salvajes (Wild Rams), have long enjoyed a championship legacy. Crowned champions of the Greater League of National Student Organization of American Football (ONEFA) in four different occasions, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1976; the team removed itself from the league only to return 12 years later with a vengeance. With Gonzalez at the helm, it was up to him to bring the Borregos back. Some of his most memorable contributions included an unstoppable winning streak in the 2001 season, when the Borregos Salvajes soared to the Championships with no losses. During the much-anticipated final game of the season, the team played against the Tigres of the UANL, who had for long been considered the best team in Mexico, at the Estadio Tecnológico de Monterrey. Borregos Salvajes came out victorious with a score of 20-12. The team reached the championships again in the 2002 season for a second consecutive year and faced a re-match against the Tigres of the UANL, in the final game. The first half of the game was tied 7-7; however, under Gonzalez’ leadership, the Borregos Salvajes made a comeback in the third and fourth quarters and brought the championship home.

Borregos Salvajes came out victorious yet again in 2004 (defeating Estado de México), in 2005 (defeating Tigres UANL); in 2006 (Defeating the Aztecas from the UDLAP); and again in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In the 2010 season, the Borregos Salvajes played in another conference, the CONADEIP premier league. They reached the finals, where they lost to their rivals, the Aztecas UDLAP 17 to 10. They made a comeback however in 2011 and in 2012 and quickly regained their championship status.

With an emphasis on family, teamwork and heart, Gonzalez guided his players with a “no man left behind” attitude. He now works as a consultant at the same institute and continues to be an inspiration and a legend in his own right.


Constantino "Tino" Martinez

Tino

Constantino “Tino” Martinez is remembered as one of the key players in the New York Yankees 1990’s dynasty while serving as a third and first baseman

 He was selected in the first round of the college draft Class of the 1990’s by the Seattle Mariners. Tino had one of his best years in 1995 when he hits 31 homerun, drove in 111 runs and batted .297 as the Seattle Mariners won their Division. Following that season, he was traded to the New York Yankees to replace legendary first baseman and team captain, Don Mattingly.

Martinez helped lead the Yankees to four World Series Championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 2000. He also won the Home Run Derby in 1997. He hit two memorable homeruns as a Yankee in a World Series, first in the 1998 series when he hit a grand slam to help the team win in game one and the other in 2001 when he hit one to tie the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

His best season as a Yankee came in 1997, when he was second in the American League with 44 Home Runs and 141 runs- batted- in and finished second as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

In the 2001 World Series, Yankees played against The Arizona Diamondbacks. the series went to game 7, which Arizona won when Luis Gonzalez, his childhood friend, hit a single against Yankee ace reliever, Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th to win the series. Gonzalez later recalled that when he went back home to check his answering machine, the first message of congratulations was from Martinez. In 2002, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinal baseball club in the National League. While at St. Louis Cardinals, Martinez first visit to Yankee Stadium was met by a long cheering crowd in appreciation of his championship years in pinstripes. In 2005, Martinez ended his successful 16-year baseball career and began working as a game analyst for ESPN and continues contributing to baseball as a batting instructor for different clubs.

 

 
 

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez

Twelve rounds of drama, unrelenting beating, and roaring crowds is the sport of boxing. Ending in blood, sweat and often tears- Dr. Manuel Gonzalez sees it all.

More than just a spectator, Gonzalez, a native Laredoan, joins his love for the sport and his love for medicine and serves as a ring physician for both amateur and professional boxing. It was Gonzales who treated Marcos Maidana’s wounds after he lifted the WBA welterweight world title from his opponent, Adrien Broner under the bright lights of the Alamodome in San Antonio this past December 2013.

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez is native to Laredo, and graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy and the University of Texas in Austin. He completed medical school at the University of Monterrey in Monterrey Mexico and trained in General Surgery at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada. He completed a fellowship in Vascular Surgery in Portland, Oregon and is Board Certified in General and Vascular Surgery. Dr. Gonzalez opened his private practice in Laredo in 1980 and continues to serve his community today as a surgeon.

However, what many do not know about Gonzalez is that he travels and treats the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, ensuring the sport and the star boxers live to see another day. For Dr. Gonzalez, being a ringside physician is a dream come true given he has always been involved in combative sports, especially boxing. Since returning to Laredo, he has supported amateur and professional boxing and his passion for the sport has led to his current role as a ring physician for both amateur and pro fights.

He is a member of the medical advisory committee for the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation of Combative Sports. Dr. Gonzalez is involved in local, state, and national boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights; and, he has been involved in major world title champion fights, including those involving local champions, the Canizales brothers.

His resume reads like a Who’s Who in American boxing. Throughout his tenure he has served as the primary ring physician for major championship fights televised on NBC sports, ESPN, FOX Deportes, Azteca, Showtime, and HBO Sports. Some of the championship fights include Juan Manuel Marquez, Juan Diaz, Antonio Margarito, and Manny Pacquiao.

His most recent fight was in San Antonio on December 14 for Showtime, between Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana.But with so many accolades under his belt, it is his own personal fight that is the most impressive. Gonzalez opened doors for physicians everywhere interested in the field of boxing. He pioneered the initial regulating and licensing of Texas Ring physicians. His license number reads #1.


Adrian's Latinos

Adrian's team

Assembled to participate in the Latin American Tournaments in Texas. 43 wins and one loss in two years - many went on to play in larger leagues.

 

The Laredo Latin-American Basketball tournament, started by Jimmy Rodriguez+ and Hector Chacon back in 1974 served as the perfect opportunity to showcase what Laredo had to offer; Sponsored by Laredo’s KLDO TV and later Adrian Martinez, the dream team was assembled with high expectations in mind – to attract positive publicity to Laredo. The players, who were mostly from Laredo and the surrounding area, enjoyed great success at the helm of their team leader Jaime Peña, of Mission, Texas, who towered at 6 feet 8 inches tall. The team won the tournament their first time out in 1984, and an entrepreneur by the name of Adrian Martinez approached them and told them that he wanted to sponsor the team – but under one condition, they had to win in Laredo.

The team did just that, winning the championship in Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston. Then followed yet another winning streak the year after (in 1986), winning in Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, and taking almost every game by a coveted 20 points. Head coaches and executives immediately took notice and invited the team to Los Angeles, California to participate in the National Mexican-American Basketball tournament.

With Martinez’ backing, the team won the championship, beating out the previous year’s champions, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the finals, and showing this young team of Latinos was a force to be reckoned with. After winning the Los Angles Tournament, the team qualified to go to the National Hispanic Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona that September. Forced to face their formidable allies (Santa Fe, New Mexico) in the finals, the team showed exactly what they were made of and came out victorious once again. For many, this catapulted their athletic careers.

Peña, enjoyed a career as an All-American in 1984 at New Mexico State, and was ultimately drafted in the 6th round by the San Antonio Spurs. He continued to play professionally throughout other parts of the world in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. He later joined the Mexican Olympic Team. The team’s point guard, Walter “Gogi” Zamora Kramer, of Laredo, attended Wayland Baptist College and played for one year in the Mexican Pro League. He was the second leading scorer in the team. Jerry Farias from Mission, Texas went on to attend St. Edwards University and played in the Mexican Pro League for three years. Jaime Gonzalez of Laredo Nixon attended Pan American University where he too found success.