Locsin grows stronger through adversity

Gilroy High senior Cisco Locsin has returned after suffering an injury early in the season. Photo by Robert Eliason.

After a tumultuous junior year, Cisco Locsin’s comeback came full circle at two points this season: In the season-opener against Liberty Union of Brentwood and in last week’s game against Salinas. The Gilroy High senior linebacker missed the 2017 season after being ruled academically ineligible. Locsin didn’t make any excuses; rather, he told a reporter the facts of his home life and how he was hanging out with the wrong crowd as factors that contributed to his 1.8 GPA as a junior.

Locsin’s senior year has been a 180-degree turnaround. With a 2.83 GPA and positive mindset, Locsin plans on working hard and creating a fruitful life for himself and his family.  Locsin has had to overcome difficult circumstances—on and off the field—making last week’s return a triumphant one. For the longest time, it looked as if Locsin’s season was done after he suffered a knee injury in practice leading up to the second game of the season.

“Unfortunately, I was not able to afford the insurance needed to get an MRI, so we really kind of winged it,” Locsin said. “I iced it, stretched it, did a little physical therapy until I was able to feel no pain. Not being able to play almost my entire senior season really sucks, but I’m going to make the best of a tough situation. I’m just excited to play the game I love again.”

At 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Locsin packs a burly frame ideal for football. When Locsin steps onto the field, his approach is simple. 

“My mindset is to play like there’s no tomorrow,” he said. “You never know when your season can get cut short. I’m lucky to be back on the field, so I’m going to take advantage of every moment I have on the field and go all out. I just have to grind on every play.”

Locsin, who only started playing the sport in the eighth grade, loves the physical aspect of the game, especially playing on the defensive side of the ball.

“You’re not being hit; you’re the one who is going to make the hit,” he said.

Mustangs coach Jake Newman expressed pride when talking about Locsin, pointing to the linebacker’s leadership skills. 

“He’s able to gather players together or pull them aside and make sure they understand their role,” Newman said. “His impact as a linebacker is he plays downhill, is aggressive and vocal. What’s really nice is he fights through every play, and that is what makes him special. He’s a good kid who has worked hard and overcome a lot of negative things in his life.”

Off the field, Locsin is also grinding to get things done, expressing pride in getting his grades up. That was one of Locsin’s main goals entering his senior year. Locsin also knew he was hanging with the wrong crowd last year. 

“You have to be careful who your friends are and how the environment around you really affects you,” he said. “I had to change that and my study habits. Education is really key and I’m glad I realized the importance of that. I’m headed in the right direction with the right mindset to stay focused in school and keep accomplishing my goals.”

Locsin would love to play football as long as he can, and could wind up playing at a community college if he continues to develop. No matter what happens, Locsin has already accomplished so much by simply getting back onto the field. Locsin’s family suffered heartbreak when Locsin’s dad, Frank, suffered a heart attack two to three years ago, Locsin said. 

“His heart was only working at 24 percent and he needed open heart surgery immediately,” Locsin said. 

With Frank being unable to work, Locsin’s mom, Josephine Duenas, has had to work two full-time jobs to help support the family. Locsin’s parents are staying at his aunt’s one bedroom apartment, with Locsin living at one of his teammates’ parents house. 

“Financially, we’re not all there,” he said. “But I have to realize a lot of people have it worse. I love my parents to death. We have a really good relationship, and they apologized to me, but we all go through struggles. What matters now is how we get out of these situations and how we respond to them. My parents are doing the best they can to get us back on our feet, and for that I’m much appreciative.”

Locsin expressed pride in his parents, who come to the games to cheer him on. Whenever his football playing days are done, Locsin plans on getting into coaching, as he wants to make a difference in others.