BLACKFOOT – Many people will remember the name of Melvin Arroyo from a year ago as the back-up post player on the Blackfoot High School basketball team.
He was the guy who would come in and spell Zac DeLora in the middle and occasionally hit a three-point basket to keep the Broncos on a roll or on the comeback trail when they were behind.
To say that he used his 6’3” frame with its 250 pounds to good use is probably an understatement. He had a role and he knew what it was all about. That is the way a mature junior plays the game.
Melvin has grown up even more since the end of basketball season. He pondered what his role might be this coming season and wondered what he could do to become a bigger force for the Broncos. It may surprise you what the answer was.
“I honestly thought about what I needed to do to be a bigger part of the team and help us win more,” Arroyo said. “The answer was to make myself better, stronger, faster, quicker. All of those things and you can’t just play basketball and make it happen, you have to broaden what you are doing and encompass a lot of work.”
The first thing he did was to join the track team and he was a thrower. He did the shot put and the discus and found out that it made him stronger, but more than that, he discovered that the best throwers were guys who had the best technique and were the best athletes. He was on the varsity and he lettered, but he was also learning.
This summer, he has been working on his skills as a soccer player. Soccer was a love when he was much younger, and he figured why not give it a try as well. Even though he hadn’t played since he was six years old, soccer became something that he quickly rebounded into form with and believe it or not, he is going to be a major factor in the success that the Blackfoot Broncos have this fall.
“I wasn’t always as big as I am now, but getting back into soccer has shown me that I can increase my agility and my lateral speed and movement and I am doing it as a goal keeper,” Arroyo said. “A lot of the soccer skills have come back and I am really enjoying myself in the process.”
This was all good news to head coach Liam Pope, who had just lost an all-conference goal keeper in Nick Quezada from last year’s team and his best defender from last year in Brad Cook. Arroyo may just fill one of those openings and do it in a great way.
Anytime you can put a 6’3” goal keeper between the pipes, you pretty well know that nothing is going to get over him. When you add the athleticism of Arroyo, you get a lot more than that. Not only do you have an athletic person in goal, but you also may have a bit of an intimidation factor in goal as well. Just think of what may be going through an onrushing forward or center with the ball and they are facing someone like Arroyo coming out to meet them. What are they going to do?
“It is all coming back to me this summer, how much fun we had as kids playing soccer,” Arroyo said. “It may not have been my first love, but it was a close second to basketball, and if this is going to make me a better basketball player and give me more stamina and agility, then I am all about it.”
Soccer is a strong sport for the Broncos and has been for a number of years now. It is almost a given that the Broncos will be right at the top of the conference standings and one of the teams mentioned when state titles and tournaments are in discussion.
That tradition should continue if word out of the Broncos’ summer camps is any indication. It has been said that Arroyo is as good as any of the former all-conference players like Daniel Pelayo and Nick Quezada. That determination hasn’t been made yet, but if he can give the Broncos the type of defense that those two goal keepers did, then that will be one less thing that the Broncos have to worry about this fall.
If soccer also gives Arroyo the ability to be a better basketball player, then the Broncos’ drought of not having been to a state basketball tournament may also come to an end. It will be a win-win situation for Blackfoot and definitely a win for Arroyo.