The volleyball team captain who loves basketball
October 15, 2023 by Mohana Holloway, Arizona State University
Mohana Holloway is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism Student assigned to cover Bourgade Catholic High School for AZPreps365.com
Being team captain, Alice Gallegos is naturally the linchpin in Bourgade Catholic’s varsity volleyball team. Reflexively, one might think volleyball is her favorite sport. Instead, Gallegos is a born and bred basketball player.
Gallegos grew up playing sports recreationally. It wasn’t until high school that she began to take it seriously. She was immediately recognized both for her athleticism and leadership qualities.
Gallegos says basketball is her passion. Her connection to the sport runs deeper than just playing on the court.
“Until high school, I never knew that my mom played basketball when she was younger. She was born in Mexico, she played over there,” Gallegos said. “But she never forced the sport on me. I guess I just found my way to basketball, and I was actually really good at it. That just really resonated with me.”
Gallegos has been recognized numerous times for her basketball skills and accomplishments, including winning 3A North Central Conference Player of the Year as a junior.
“With basketball, there is a sense of stress when you’re playing the sport,” Gallegos said. “But I fell in love with that struggle and competitiveness.”
It was her competitive instinct as a basketball player that first motivated Gallegos to join volleyball. It was a way to keep herself occupied during the basketball offseason. Gallegos plays volleyball as both an outside and middle hitter.
During her freshman year, she met her current volleyball coach, Jesse Santos. At the time, Santos was an assistant coach for Bourgade’s volleyball team. Santos knew Gallegos was a basketball player, but during his time as assistant coach, he saw something special in her and immediately thought that she was leadership material.
“Watching her (Gallegos) play, she definitely holds her teammates accountable,” Santos said. “She keeps it real, to be honest. She knows how to lead, how to play and how to compete.”
Gallegos took her junior year off volleyball to focus solely on basketball. However, when her senior year rolled around, and Santos became head coach, the stars aligned for a return to the volleyball court.
“I remember saying, 'Alice (Gallegos), you know, we have volleyball tryouts. I would love to have you here,'” Santos said. “I definitely wanted her back. Not only for her skills or leadership but for the fact she had more potential.”
Gallegos was apprehensive about joining volleyball in her senior year. A big risk for her was getting injured right before her final high school basketball season.
“I truly only did it for him (Santos), coming back. When weighing out the pros and cons, I realized behind the scenes, he did a lot for me,” Gallegos said. “My freshman year, when we went to playoffs for basketball, he drove four hours away to support me. So coming back to playing volleyball after skipping a year, I truly just owed it to him and to the girls to come back.”
Alice Gallegos and teammate Natalya Perez during a substitution. (Mohana Holloway photo/AZPreps365)
With Bourgade having a population of under 400 students, the varsity volleyball team is incredibly close. Her connection with Santos and her teammates allowed Gallegos to put her best foot forward entering this season as a first-time team captain.
“Alice is definitely a big contributor. Alice brings that energy, her positivity, and that's what makes her a good captain,” Santos said.
Emily Bonilla, a junior outside hitter, says that Gallegos is the reason why she was able to build her confidence, both on and off the court.
“I used to be scared to go on the floor and go for the hard hits, the digs,” Bonilla said. “But with Alice, she’s really motivating. She talked to us and said ‘If you're scared, then what's the point of even playing?’ Alice helped me grow out of my little box of being afraid. Our team wouldn’t be the same (without her).”
Gallegos says that as she is graduating, she wants to leave behind a legacy at Bourgade.
Alice Gallegos being honored on Senior Night ahead of a Bourgade Catholic home match. (Mohana Holloway photo/AZPreps365)
“We have so much potential as a team. I have my true intentions of being here,” Gallegos said. “As a senior, I want to take care of the girls, and make sure they’re ready for when I’m gone.”
Gallegos says playing sports has been essential to her growth as a young woman, especially since it has helped her navigate through personal struggles.
“When I became an athlete, life just became so easy. Instead of being so sad, it was a relief to play sports and escape from my problems,” Gallegos said. “It made me put myself out there. I realized life was worth living, you know?”
Gallegos has already received athletic scholarship offers from the University of Antelope Valley and Arizona Christian University. This especially means a lot, since she has struggled with being able to financially support herself through sports.
“One thing I would tell younger athletes is to never give up on their dreams,” Gallegos said. “Do not let financial problems get in the way. If you truly have a passion for what you want to do, don't hold yourself back. It never is too late to start.”
Because of these scholarships, Gallegos now has the opportunity to attend college, something she never thought she would be able to do due to monetary struggles. She plans on pursuing a career in nursing, as well as coaching both basketball and volleyball. However, she says she will never forget her Bourgade roots.
“I’ve formed such a strong bond with Coach (Santos) and these girls,” Gallegos said. “Even though basketball is my thing, I just love them so much. I don't think I’ll ever want to let go of these friendships.”