Most high school students are hitting the snooze button at 7:30 a.m. The time for Eddie “Junior” Carrizalez has a different meaning. The 17-year-old senior at Shelbyville High School is transitioning from work to school at that time, a schedule he has maintained for the past few years at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.
Carrizalez is part of a family immersed in horse racing. His father, Miguel Ramos, is an exercise rider and works on the starting gate during the races and his mother, Sara Donjuan, is a groom for Mike Lauer. Carrizalez works alongside his mother as a groom in the Lauer Stable and currently takes care of six horses. Those under his care include Chipofftheoldblock, Comes N Threes, Sunsign, Jingle, Alternate Nights and Ginormous.
“I started going to the barn when I was four, so I’ve been around horses all my life,” said Carrizalez. “I like being around them, and my mom has taught me a lot. I take care of them in the morning, get them ready to go to the track and also get them ready on race days and walk them up to the paddock. It’s worked out for me to be at the barn and still get to school and practices.”
Carrizalez is referring to a jam-packed schedule each fall. The three-sport athlete is a member of the varsity soccer team as well as the kicker and punter for the football team at Shelbyville High School. He also runs track in the spring. Participating in both fall sports at the same time can have its challenges, but he has worked out a schedule with the coaches and with Lauer.
“Right after school, I go to football practice first and then head over to soccer practice,” said Carrizalez. “The day before a game, I usually stay longer at that practice and will miss the other sport on game days. But otherwise, they are at different times and the games are on different days, so it works out.”
Soccer has always been a passion for Carrizalez, a love he shares with his father. He learned the game at an early age and competes in leagues outside of school. He even plays at Indiana Grand’s soccer field on dark days of racing with his father and friends.
“I mostly learned soccer on my own,” added Carrizalez. “It’s something that I’ve always liked. My dad is a pretty good soccer player. He and my mom come to a lot of my games when they can.”
Carrizalez was a major contributor on the team during his junior year. As left wing and midfielder, he is quick and can move the ball to teammates in a flash. Carrizalez scored four goals during the year on a team that has produced college talent over the past few seasons. The team took a devastating blow this past spring when senior Nolan Parker was killed in an automobile accident. His passing has had a major impact on the soccer program at Shelbyville.
“Soccer just won’t be the same without Nolan,” said Carrizalez. “Even though he was a senior and was graduating, knowing he’s not there is hard. He was a good leader and a great friend.”
Following the loss of Parker, disruptions in school and sports due to COVID set in. Carrizalez had to find other ways to get on the field. Although he still had work at the barn in the mornings, he spent most of his evenings playing soccer.
“Junior is a special kid who knows how to balance hard work with having fun,” noted Shelbyville Head Soccer Coach Ben Purvis. “He always has a smile on his face when talking and kicking a ball around with his friends, but as soon as we get into exercises, he becomes focused on getting better. He was a raw talent early in his time with our program and has put in the work to become a regular contributor for our varsity. This spring, even though we weren’t allowed to practice due to COVID, I would drive by the fields and more often than not, see Junior working on different aspects of his game. He has a passion for soccer and drive to improve. I’m really excited to see what his senior year holds.”
Football is a newer sport for Carrizalez. He has also developed a passion for it and is showing real promise as the team’s punter and kicker. He caught the eye of Head Coach Mike Clevenger two years ago while kicking soccer balls in the gym and has made the conversion over to the gridiron.
“I had Eddie (Carrizalez) in my advanced PE class my first full year at Shelbyville,” explained Clevenger. “One day I come into the gym, and I see him kicking a soccer ball the length of the fieldhouse. I asked him if he would be interested in coming out and kicking for the football team. The next season Eddie came out looking like a kid that has kicked (a football) his whole life. He impressed all of us coaches. He has continued to work every day on his kicking, along with going to soccer practice, working, and school. He has become a great asset for us for football. Through his hard work and perseverance, around half of his kickoffs were touchbacks. We all look forward to Eddie's senior year and what he is able to accomplish."
Carrizalez notes that kicking footballs is different than kicking soccer balls. He uses the front of his foot while kicking in football but in soccer, the side of his foot is utilized to move the ball down the field.
“Mr. (Luke) Stout (assistant football coach) really helped polish my kicking (for football),” said Carrizalez. “It wasn’t hard to pick up after the first few times. Punting is harder for me, but I’m learning more all the time.”
Carrizalez has not had the opportunity to kick a field goal yet in a game, but he has sailed the ball down the field 65 yards during kickoffs and can consistently kick 40-yard field goals in practice. He’s just waiting for the opportunity to put his skills to use in a game.
When school resumes Aug. 5 at Shelbyville High School, Carrizalez will cut back to three horses in the Lauer barn. He will still have time to finish up at the barn by 7:30 a.m. and head to school. Afternoons will be totally focused on football and soccer. As a senior, he’s hopeful to get an offer to continue his love of either sport in the college ranks.
“Right now, it could be anywhere and I’d be interested just to be able to play in college,” said Carrizalez. “I am hoping for soccer, but football would be great too. I haven’t really thought too much about it. But I’d love to play in college.”
Whatever the case may be for Carrizalez’s future, he has placed new meaning in the word dedication. With a proven track record, the sky’s the limit for Carrizalez