"Nah, actually, I'd blow her doors off."
Spoken like a true big brother.
Kevin Candelaria is a 23-year-old senior on the Vanguard University
men's basketball team, while Debbie, a 20-year-old sophomore, plays on
the women's team. It seems that the two have been inseparable as far back
as they can remember.
"When we were in high school and she was a freshman and I was a
senior, she was always hanging out with me and my friends," Kevin said.
"Living together, going to school together, playing sports together, we
were pretty tight growing up. Oh, once in a while I'd get mad and explode
on her, but nothing too major. Just your normal brother-sister thing."
Kevin, born and raised in northern Arizona, has been away from the
house for a number of years now, so the opportunity to have family close
by is welcomed.
"It's been great having her down here with me," Kevin said. "Having
family around is always a nice thing."
Kevin and Debbie are the second and third of four Candelaria children,
squeezed in between Brian, 25, and Joe, a sophomore at Page High in
Arizona. The Candelaria family is based out of Page Ariz., population,
"All the kids grew up around sports," Kevin said. "Our dad has always
stressed to us God, family, school and athletics, in that order. We've
all always been a very close family."
After a stint at Mesa Community College, Kevin came to Vanguard and
played baseball for the Lions, twice earning All-Golden State Athletic
Conference honors as an outfielder, third baseman and catcher. In his
two-year baseball career, he hit .330 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs.
Still with one year of school work to complete, Kevin looked toward
another sport to wrap up his VU career.
"I had heard about having a fifth year of eligibility with a second
sport," he said. "I had made a lot of friends with the guys on the team
and they encouraged me to give it a try for this year. I also spent a lot
of time with Assistant Coach Justin McIntee (a Newport Harbor High
product) and he helped me get into basketball shape."
So far, so good for the slugger turned hoopster. Kevin is averaging
seven points and six rebounds per game for the Lions, while his play