More than an Athlete: Weslaco’s Emilio Ornelas

Local Sports

WESLACO, Texas (KVEO) — The year 2020 brought significant challenges to millions of people and athletes were no different.

Many Rio Grande Valley athletes lost the opportunity to compete in high school sports due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Future 2023 graduate Emilio Ornelas was just getting used to his new home at Weslaco High School when quarantine was introduced to the Rio Grande Valley. He was looking forward to competing as a Panther.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was 7,” Ornelas said. “Sadly last year I couldn’t play because of COVID.”

It was a tough blow for a young athlete, but, when sports were put on pause, Ornelas pressed play.

“I bought a microphone. It was a $30 microphone from Amazon,” Ornelas said. “[Quarantine] basically what brought me into music… I started off making a cover and I just enjoyed it.”

Ornelas’ brother provided an old laptop and some recording software to get his brother’s new hobby started. After countless YouTube tutorials on music production, Ornelas was hooked.

“At first it didn’t sound too good, but it was just the experience that I had and knowing that I had a song myself. It was just crazy to me,” Ornelas said.

The young Panther pulls inspiration from a handful of artists. When writing music, Ornelas focuses on telling a story through his music.

“I like writing about heartbreak even though I’m too young to go about it,” Ornelas said. “I think of a story in my head and I just go off of it.”

Call him a young romantic, but the young artist has produced four songs in his short career. From “Ricochet” to “Switch Sides,” Ornelas can be heard on music streaming platforms like Spotify.

The Weslaco Panther football team approves of his music as well.

“It’s actually kind of funny. They played all my songs to the football team in the football weight room,” Ornleas said with a smile. “At first it was just like, it was all funny, but then a few people came up to me and said… ‘I really like your songs’ and that made me feel good.”

Though he has plenty of potential, Ornelas admits music is not his primary focus in the future.

With a 4.0 Grade Point Average, Ornelas is focused on education as he hopes to complete his Associate’s Degree in high school before pursuing a career as a pediatrician.

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