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Prep athletes look at more than money

Pros have influence, but it’s mostly due to their achievements

Posted: August 20, 2013 9:10 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2013 9:10 p.m.
Professional golfer and Saugus High graduate Nick Delio said he was never motivated by money in high school or college or even now. Professional golfer and Saugus High graduate Nick Delio said he was never motivated by money in high school or college or even now.
Professional golfer and Saugus High graduate Nick Delio said he was never motivated by money in high school or college or even now.

Tiger Woods made $78.1 million in 2012.

Alex Rodriguez recently sold his Miami beach home for $30 million.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s nickname is “Money.”

For all that people know about what athletes can do on a field of play, they also know how much money athletes make and what they do with that money.

The media has taken an extremely up-close interest of athletes’ personal lives these days and many athletes welcome the opportunity to flaunt their wealth.

These days idols aren’t just athletes, but athletes’ wealth.

With more local athletes becoming professional athletes since 2000 than the 50 years before that combined, there are more Santa Clarita Valley-produced role models to look up to than ever before.

However, coaches in the Santa Clarita Valley say their kids don’t look up to today’s athletes and local professional athletes for their money.

And some of our local professional athletes say money is not their driving force, nor do they think it influences whether a kid looks up to them or not.

Ask New England Patriots running back and Valencia High graduate Shane Vereen.

“It’s not necessarily about money. Some of the (kids) ask me what it’s like to be an NFL player — the lifestyle,” Vereen said. “My motivation in high school, my biggest goal wasn’t to be an NFL player. My goal was to be a college football player.”

Vereen is different, though.

On social media, he doesn’t flaunt material possessions.

He doesn’t talk about his money.

In fact, Vereen talked about the pitfalls of fame, saying that he’s seen first hand how some professional athletes have been taken advantage of because of their wealth.

“I’ve been blessed to where that hasn’t become an issue for me,” Vereen said. “You play with guys where it almost happens often. ,,, Some guys think it’s their duty to support friends and family.”

Vereen’s high school coach and Valencia head football coach Larry Muir said when Vereen comes around campus there’s a buzz.

But kids aren’t interested, he said, so much for what he makes as they are in his being an NFL player with a cool lifestyle attached to it. But they also look at him as a role model because he represents them.

“The kids don’t see that with him. When he comes here, he’s in shorts or a T-shirt and he comes here in his mom’s or dad’s car,” Muir said. “When he comes here it’s not like he walks down the hall in gold chains and whatever. It’s more the lifestyle that he’s in the NFL — the NFL lifestyle, whatever the perception of that is.”

Hart High School has produced more millionaire athletes than any other school in the SCV.

Baseball player Todd Zeile made just over $40 million in his career, according to

Kyle Boller’s rookie contract with the Baltimore Ravens was worth up to $20 million for five seasons.

Matt Moore signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Miami Dolphins in March.

In March 2008, James Shields signed a deal that reportedly could pay him $38 over seven years — a contract that at this point is very undervalued compared to other starting pitchers’ deals.

However, Hart head baseball coach Jim Ozella, who coached Moore and Shields in baseball, as well as another millionaire in Trevor Bauer, said he doesn’t get the feeling that his current athletes play for money or look up to these guys for the money they make.

“To be honest, from our standpoint with our kids, I don’t think our kids understand the relationship of money and the game,” Ozella said. “I think they realize the professionals are well paid. But I don’t really think they understand really how much money they’re getting. It seems with our guys, they’re kind of living in the moment.”

Is that surprising?

Especially from kids playing in a program that has been a route to, in some very rare cases, millions.

Ozella said a lot of his professionals have come back to Hart to talk to his kids.

Money isn’t the topic of discussion. Life lessons are — the struggle of getting to the big leagues.

“The minor leagues, the game, it’s a meat market. It’s survival of the fittest,” Ozella said.

Golf is a game where it’s also survival of the fittest and money is arguably an even bigger part of the story.

First-place finishes are reported alongside with winnings for a tournament.

Professional golfer and Saugus High graduate Nick Delio, though, said he was never motivated by money in high school or college or even now.

Even during a time where money sustains his ability to compete.

Delio plays on the Dakotas Tour, one of several mini-tours equivalent to a PGA Tour minor leagues.

This year, he said, he’s earned close to $40,000 so far.

He won the latest Dakotas Tour event on Sunday and took home $10,000 for the victory.

“Yes, money is very important. It’s definitely very important. But I think if you focus just on money, you lose not the motivation, but lose sight of the main goal,” Delio said. “The main goal is to win titles and championships, first place.

“The main goal when I was 7, I didn’t say I want to be a millionaire, I said I want to win the Masters, and I still think that way.”

When The Signal threw out the question directed to parents on Facebook as to if their kids are motivated to play sports because of the possibility of making millions one day, and are pro athletes’ salaries and lifestyles influential to children, most said no.

But there were a few commenters who said it’s not the kids who are influenced, but someone else.

“No my kids aren’t influenced. But I think many parents are,” said one commenter.

“My kid isn’t motivated by that, but his dad is,” said another.

Delio said he liked pro golfers Phil Mickelson growing up and Adam Scott now.

Mickelson has career earnings of almost $79 million and Scott has nearly $39 million.

Delio likes their game and how they give back to others. Money doesn’t influence why he looks up to them, he said.

Delio is also a fight fan, and said money isn’t always influential in a good way.

“See Floyd Mayweather throw 100s at the camera. People think that’s cool. I think it’s sort of a bad influence,” Delio said. “I like the guy, but don’t think it’s a good influence. It creates a narcissistic behavior. You become an egomaniac in my opinion.”



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