Idabel’s Darren Rios – Athlete Spotlight Presented by McCurtain County National Bank

By Nick Hampton

This spring you can find Darren Rios playing outfield for the Warriors baseball team. But if his mind wanders at times he can be forgiven as his real passion is powerlifting where he captured a state championship earlier this year.

“We started lifting in November and had our first meet in January. We only did two meets before regionals and just lifted in between,” said Rios who is a member of the Key Club and National Honor Society. “I knew going into state that I would probably win because I was stronger than the guy who won at this class last year (157 pounds) and he was gone. I squatted 480 pounds, bench pressed 275 pounds and dead lifted 475 pounds for a total of 1230 pounds.”

Back on the ball diamond, coach Casey Zachry was glad to see Rios return.

“He didn’t get back to us until mid-March, but it didn’t take him long to adapt because he loves the game.”

“I started out playing soccer when I was little, but my parents wanted me to try T-ball and I did and just fell in love with the game,” said Rios. “I played travel ball in summer and all through middle school. I also played football up until this year when I decided to concentrate on powerlifting.”

Rios is a senior leader on a young team and has a definite idea of what a leader should and should not be.

“As a leader it’s not your job to get on anybody. That’s the coach’s job. I think a leader is someone who picks everybody up after the coach has been chewing on them and point out what they could have done to be better.”

His speed may be his best physical tool on the diamond as he has yet to get caught stealing this season.

“Stealing bases has always been my thing,” said Rios. “I was taught just to watch the pitcher’s back foot. If it steps off, you get back, if it doesn’t you go.”

But his speed may not be the biggest asset that Rios brings to the team according to Zachry.

“As a senior he sets such a great example for our young kids. If they’ll look to his example, we’ll be a better team in years to come. He’s a great team leader and I wish I had more like him,” said Zachry.

Rios credits his powerlifting coach Clayton Saiz for a lot of his success and making powerlifting a lifestyle.

“I think nutrition plays a bigger role than workouts in powerlifting. I’ll eat six meals a day with lots of protein. “

Rios hopes to turn his success and lifestyle into a powerlifting scholarship for college and is visiting some schools this spring with that goal in mind.