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Prep football: Learn on the fly

Reid Soliman was thrown into the fire early in his career

Posted: August 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley QB Reid Soliman throws a football through a tire at a Grizzly football practice. The senior quarterback was thrust into the starting role his sophomore season and forced to learn on the fly.

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Usually, a high school player’s first experience at the varsity level is a moment to cherish.

Golden Valley’s Reid Soliman has a slightly different view of his.

It was October 23, 2009. Soliman was a sophomore who was suddenly called up to start at quarterback late in the season.
At that point, the Grizzlies were 0-6 and facing eventual Foothill League champion Valencia.

“I’m not going to lie, when I was walking into that game, I was kind of nervous,” Soliman says.

Bottom line, it wasn’t pretty for Soliman and company, who lost the game 49-0.

It’s not a day Soliman will soon forget, but the senior doesn’t remember it in a negative light. Throughout his career, he’s had to deal with adverse situations, but he’s learned and grown from each one of them.

“I think he realized that it was going to be the toughest thing he was going to face in his life,” says Joe Soliman, Reid’s dad, of the Valencia game.

The now 17-year-old senior Reid was part of a group of five sophomores called up midway through the 2009 season. It was a struggle the rest of the way for the Grizzlies, who finished an imperfect 0-10 that year.

Players like Soliman were thrown into the fire, and they had no choice but to fight their way out. They had to lose together before they could win together.

“I feel if you’re losing games, you’re getting better because you’re learning from your mistakes,” Soliman says.

Last year, as juniors, the same group of players became more important pieces to the puzzle, and the team finished 3-7, but appeared to make strides toward becoming a bigger contender in league play.

Soliman’s numbers were improved, the games were closer, but the senior wanted more. He thinks now is the time.

“I think he was seeing back then what he’s finally seeing now,” Joe says. “That’s a senior team now that knew it was going to have to take it on the chin for a few years.”

As a quarterback, Soliman has taken both the team’s struggles and his own in stride during his tenure at Golden Valley.

“With that up and down, it’s made me a lot better of a person and player because I think, out of all the teams in the league, we do have the most adversity,” Soliman says.

Even in the most trying times, Soliman maintains a level head. If he throws a perfect pass to an open receiver and the ball is dropped, Soliman’s usual reaction is a pat on the back and a quick “we’ll get ‘em next time” speech.

“Being a quarterback and being a team leader is sometimes a lot more than yelling at a guy and chewing a guy out,” says Golden Valley head coach Robert Fisher.

Taking on the duties that come with being a quarterback is something Soliman has had to adjust to.

He learned the mechanics of the position from scratch starting in seventh grade when his Pop Warner coach named him quarterback.

His dad asked the coach why he picked a kid with no experience to lead the huddle.

“If he’s got it upstairs, the rest will just work itself out,” Joe recalls the coach telling him.

That coach saw the same thing Fisher sees in Soliman now — perseverance.

Fisher was Soliman’s head coach as a freshman and has been his offensive coordinator the past two years. He, more than anyone, has seen the senior’s maturity grow on the field.

“He knows by now, when I’m about to call a play, sometimes what play I’m calling, or he knows a play that will put us in a good position,” Fisher says.

Whether the play works or not and whether the Grizzlies win or lose, Soliman considers it his responsibility. He takes it personally.

“I feel like it’s on my shoulders because at the end of the day it really comes back to the quarterback, and I know we can win and we have it in ourselves that we can do it,” Soliman says.

To think, Soliman has all the confidence in the world going into his senior year, and it all started when he was a wide-eyed sophomore going against a powerhouse 2009 Valencia team.

“That night when we played Valencia, I kept my mouth shut because I knew that he believed,” Joe says.

And now, his long and strange journey as quarterback of Golden Valley is reaching its final chapter.

Only Reid Soliman knows how it will be written.

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