AT senior Mateo Gomez participated in the singing of the 7th inning stretch at the Cubs versus Twins game on Sept. 27 with UFC fighter Conor McGregor.
The opportunity came after Gomez competed in the PepsiCo series showdown tournament with AT’s soccer team. Gomez’s demonstrated talent during the tournament and desire to give back both on and off the field by being active in his school and community punched him, as well as six other Chicagoland area student athletes, a ticket to Wrigley Field.
After finding out about the opportunity, Gomez expressed both surprise and appreciation.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “This showed me what you can achieve with God, hard work, and responsibility.”
During the game, a 5-4 Cubs loss versus the Twins, all of the students were able to meet McGregor. The famed wrestler showed the young athletes that giving back never ceases to be important.
“It carries that theme no matter how big you get, no matter how successful you are, giving back is always the main priority,” said ___ senior Ciara Hosty regarding her meeting with McGregor. Hosty was another student selected to sing the 7th inning stretch.
Before the game, two students threw out the first pitch with McGregor, who quickly created a riot on social media following his errant throw. After six and a half innings, Gomez took his spot in the press box to sing the classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
“I can’t really explain it,” said Gomez about the feeling of the moment. “As I was singing, I looked at the stadium and it was packed, and seeing Conor right next to me, I just forgot about everything that was going on in my life and the moment was unforgettable.”
James White, a senior at Sandburg High School who threw out the first pitch, also described the incredibility of standing next to such an incredulous athlete.
“It was just an awesome experience to meet him [McGregor,]” White said. “It was really cool to see someone so powerful from a business and athletic standpoint.”
According to Gomez, not only was the moment indelible, but also what came after.
“The next day, I went to school. A lot of people couldn’t believe it,” he said in an interview with WGN news.
Just like McGregor, Gomez gives back in many ways outside of his time playing his sport. Gomez is a lieutenant governor for a division of Key Club, the vice president of AT’s National Honor Society, the host of the AT student news channel, a Blazer Ambassador, and an active servant in his church and community among other activities. He cited God, his family, and the teachers and staff at AT as the inspirations for his hard work.
Another role model for Gomez is singer Frank Sinatra. Sinatra, who aimed to inspire others, shares in common with Gomez his identity as an immigrant. Gomez moved to the United States from Colombia before his freshman year of high school. He too credits his work to his goal of inspiring others.
“I believe I’ve done a lot of these things [activities and service] because in order to make the world a better place, we have to help people as much as possible,” he said.
He described AT as a place full of people who have demonstrated this concept to him.
“Addison Trail is like my second home; its teachers, staff members, cafeteria people, and many others make our high school truly a unique one. They help us, students, as much as they can, and I really love and appreciate that,” he said.
Gomez plans to continue his hard work during college next year. His top schools include Florida International University and the University of Tampa.
He provided advice for those seeking to succeed like he has thus far.
“Work hard, be responsible, trust God, be humble, never forget where you came from and never give up,” he said. “There may be a lot of times where you feel like there is no purpose of doing everything you’re doing but I’m going to tell you to keep going because everything you do in high school will get you far in life.”
Gomez is continuing his hard work through AT’s extremely successful soccer team and his heavy involvement in Key Club. He will strive to achieve even more throughout the upcoming months of the school year.