Article by: Jim Loftus
WHITTIER, Calif. – Former Poet and Men's Lacrosse Alumni Matt Hernandez '16 was just selected to the Mexican National Team. He earns a spot on the Mexico Lacrosse Roster for the 2018 FIL World Championships in Israel next Summer, where he will represent both the country of his heritage but also the city of Los Angeles, Calif.
He joins Ernie Melero (Manual Arts HS) and Tim Gonzales (Palisades Charter) who both are from Los Angeles, Calif. as they join the Mexican National Team as well. All three are first-generation U.S. citizens with at least one parent who was born in Mexico, making them eligible for the Mexico Lacrosse Roster in international competition.
"When people go down there from the States for the first time to play," Hernandez said, "they're kind of surprised. They're not great, but if you could get the best of the best from down there and put them in the MCLA, they could definitely keep up."
A 2011 graduate of Birmingham Charter HS, Hernandez went head to head with Melero for three years in high school, then played at Whittier College, graduating in 2016. He works as a Public Safety Field Deputy for the City of LA.
Like Melero, Hernandez is a first-born American citizen. He said his father is from Mexico City and his mom is from El Paso, Texas, but her family is from Mexico.
"Just to wear the colors and represent the country where my family is from is an honor," he said, "and then to play the game I love — there are a lot of kids in the world who have that dream.
"I'm American, and I'm very proud to be an American, but its an honor to represent that culture. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and all the time in college, or in high school going to recruiting camps, I always felt like I was representing Los Angeles, too."
He said he first contacted Mexico Lacrosse four years ago, then stayed in touch and eventually received an invitation to try out last September. Earlier that summer, all three played in the Lake Tahoe men's club tournament, where, Gonzales said, a representative from Mexico Lacrosse saw them and asked Hernandez about his two friends, resulting in their invitation to the tryout.
"When I got the notification, I was excited," Hernandez said of making the final roster, "surprised and excited and grateful. Three kids from Los Angeles get to have this opportunity."