NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Derrek Ramos is not only a competitor, he is a person people enjoy being around.
North Platte senior Derrek Ramos during player introductions at a game earlier in the season. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
"I would characterize Derrek as having a magnetic personality, kids like being around him,” North Platte basketball coach Matt Kaminski said. “He's got a sense of humor the kids gravitate towards. He's one of a kind competitor, somebody that has just loved the game from a long time ago and he's grown up he's matured, become a better leader, and somebody that we've had to count on night in and night out."
Ramos started playing basketball in sixth grade, and really fell in love with it freshman year, thanks to his then head coach, and current varsity assistant coach Jimmie Pack.
"Freshman year, coach Pack was big influence on me, with how competitive I was, and how much I realized I love the sport," Ramos said.
For the Bulldogs, Ramos’ specialty was defense, and was usually tasked with guardian the opposing team’s best player.
“He had a tough job, his strength was limiting and disrupting the other team's best player, and he was very good at it. He had a knack for reading guys, their moves, what they did, their tendencies, and he did a really good job for us," Kaminski said.
"He's one of our best competitors,” said fellow senior Steven Garcia. “Ever since I was little, I remember Derek was one of the best defenders, he still is. He's just really good at doing what he does.”
Ramos always welcomed the challenge of locking down the other team’s best player.
"Defense is a mental thing. Every big game that we had against a ranked opponent, I always looked forward to just guarding their best player," Ramos said.
In a testament to his toughness, Ramos played through two injuries this season. During a practice, he collided with teammate Finn Lucas, and “turned his nose into cole slaw” (Kaminski’s words). Ramos also battled a foot injury that he first sustained during football season, until a few weeks prior to the end of the season; it worsened, ending his season early.
"It's incredibly painful to play with, that just tells you they kind of fight he has in him, and the type of competitor he is," Kaminski said. "If I had to guess anybody that'd be playing with a mask, it'd probably be him. He's just the kind of kid that finds himself in harm's way a lot, but that's because he's a competitor."
Ramos did not hesitate to play with a mask, but he did have to change his play style.
"I had to really work on my ball handling. Because of the mask, I really couldn't look down at the ball," Ramos said.
Ramos playing through injuries did not surprise his coach or his teammates.
"He's a strong-willed athlete. If you challenge him, he's going to rise to the occasion. The type of competitor he is, the injury he played with, I don't think a lot of kids would play through," Kaminski said
"I know that Derrek is always going to push through. If he's got something wrong, he's going to push through for the team. He just doesn't give up, he's going to keep playing until he physically can’t, that's what I really about like about him," Garcia said.
When Ramos isn’t playing football, basketball, or soccer, he also likes playing video games. He has not yet made a decision on what he will do for college, but hopes to play soccer at the next level.