Alfonso Diaz and his younger sisters, Rosiliana and Xena, thought a surprise visit to Buccaneers practice during the team’s annual Military Appreciation Day was the special trip Coach Mills had in store for them.
“I told them I'd pick them up Monday morning but didn’t tell them where we were headed,” said Roger Mills, English teacher and track coach at Alonso High School.
After Alfonso and his sisters visited military exhibits and talked with military personnel, the team's guests of honor soon realized their visit had more in store than practice itself.
As the fog horn signaled the end of practice, the siblings were encouraged to step out on the practice field where Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Jason Licht greeted them. Then came the biggest surprise of all. Arians and Licht presented Alfonso with a $5,000 scholarship from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation.
“I was just shocked and so grateful for the opportunity to receive that,” Alfonso said.
“We were excited to surprise him and to hopefully alleviate some of the burden that he’s feeling from taking care of his two younger siblings,” said Brian Bell, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation and Glazer Family Foundation.
Alfonso is part of a single-parent military family that includes his mother, Sgt. Dianne Matos, and two younger sisters, Rosiliana (14) and Xena (8). Alfonso quickly was thrust into the role of primary guardian for the girls once their mom was called into active duty—all while attending Alonso High School and competing on the school’s track team.
“I take them to their dentist appointments, get groceries, make dinner, drop my sister off at school and pick her up from karate class after track practice,” explained Alfonso. “I’m just glad that I’m the one able to take care of my sisters and that they have all the trust in the world in me.”
“This is really a testimony to him of being responsible enough to take care of his siblings, but it also tells you something about mom,” said Coach Mills. “She clearly raised this boy the right way because his dedication to his family coupled with his dedication to his team and school work is unprecedented.”
In addition to the scholarship, Alfonso and his sisters took a tour of the Advent Health Training Facility, received Buccaneer swag, and, most special of all, were surprised with a video message from their mom.
Alfonso will be attending Hillsborough Community College—staying local to continue caring for his sisters—as he studies to become a sports physician.View Full Album