All in Las Familia: Natural disasters sent socer playing Larios family to America

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 27, 2007 - Despite being the smallest nation in the Americas, El Salvador has more than its share of natural disasters, and two earthquakes in the span of one month in 2001 was too much for the Larios family.

The Larios family, with three sons in tow, moved from El Salvador that year and ended up in Sulphur Springs. The Wildcat soccer program has reaped the rewards of their migration.

For the last four years, there has been a Larios brother on the SSHS soccer team and there will likely be one for the next three years. Rolando is a senior this year. He played two years with older brother Wilfredo, who graduated in 2006, and younger brother Rodrigo is on the varsity this year as a freshman.

Rolando has been a three-year starter at midfield, where head coach Andy Holt said he is one of the most skilled players to come through Sulphur Springs.

But to get here, he had to leave his home.

"It was hard there," Rolando said of El Salvador. "It was pretty hard to live."

An earthquake hit near their town. While it didn't damage their house, it scared his parents enough that they wanted a safer place to raise their children.

In 2001, two earthquakes combined to kill about 1,000 people in El Salvador, a small Central American country smaller than the state of Massachusetts. Despite its small size, the country has been wracked by earthquakes, volcano eruptions and hurricanes.

"We were going to go to New York because we had more family there, but we ended up here," Larios said of the trip. They found a home on the Wildcat soccer team.

Larios played almost every day with his brothers on a field close to their home in El Salvador, and he was also a member of a club team there.

Rolando, a First Team All-District midfielder on last year's regional finalist team, is known for his amazing ball handling skills. Like a true point guard in basketball, Larios would rather pass the ball than shoot it.

That's something that Holt is trying to change somewhat.

"He does a great job of passing it," Holt explained. "He made a lot of plays for us last year and he continues to do that this year.

"We're looking for him to be a little more offensive as far as attacking and trying to score. That's something we're trying to instill in him because he likes to pass it. He's getting a little more aggressive and creating more opportunities."

Larios is slightly built, but Holt said his skill level and knowledge of the game make up for his size.

"He looks small, but he plays big," Holt said. "He's got great touch, that's his best attribute, and his feel for the game. He understands the game, he knows where to put the ball, how to position himself, and he does a great job of setting up his teammates.

"His skill level is extremely high - it always has been. Rolando knows how to use his body. He knows how to shield bigger defenders off and beat them in one-on-one situations."

He will be able to take his talents to college. His older brother, Wilfredo, is on the Tyler Junior College team, and Rolando will likely join him there next year.

"Rolando definitely has the skill level to play in college," Holt said. "He's one of the most skilled players to ever play at Sulphur Springs."

With an assist from El Salvador.

Notes: The Wildcats will host Paris at 7:15 p.m. today at Prim Stadium with playoff implications aplenty. Sulphur Springs is in fourth place in the district with 13 points, while Paris is four points ahead of them in second place.

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