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Sports Reporter

Maybe I’m old school and maybe my method of thinking is out-dated compared to today’s society.

But I’m still a believer in hard work, perseverance and personal sacrifices being the ultimate guide to land at a prestigious four-year university.

So for this edition of Zo’s Gold Mines, I’m here to write this message: Going the “Fake it until I make it” route will lead you off a cliff and leave you with one huge disaster to clean up on your own.

“Fake it until I make it” now has several new faces: Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and everyone else who was allegedly involved and implicated in the college entrance scam gate from this week.

You already know the details if you’ve followed their story, but they clearly showed that hiring someone to take tests for their kids, taking a selfie and acting like a star athlete with no history of weight training and falsifying everything else can lead you to your dream university…for a few weeks only until the feds pull up to your house and have the guns drawn.   

They’re not the only ones who lied about their accolades, though.

In the prep football recruiting world, someone adopted the name Unique Brissett II back in 2017 and turned him into a high-profile prospect. On the internet, he was a star wide receiver from Globe Institute of Technology Junior College in New York who announced a top five of Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, Maryland and Kentucky on his Twitter page.

Except Unique Brissett II had no history of catching passes and he goes down in internet lore as the recruit who catfished people through a keyboard. He’s not the only one.

Recently, Blake Carringer was the paper prototypical left tackle that colleges were looking for….all 6-foot-6, 315-pounds of him from Knoxville, except Carringer was created by a group of kids trying to get social media love.  

They went the “Fake it until I make it” route and got articles all right – articles on how they became frauds to the nation.

But here’s why I’m ballistic about this…

There are many, MANY kids up and down California I’ve talked to in the past who have had to make so many intense sacrifices and go through so many setbacks to still reel in a high grade-point average, all while dreaming of roaming around a prestigious four-year institution.

I’ve spoken to kids who had to take bus rides to school through city transit because they didn’t feel safe walking to school, even if it was a 15-minute walk.

I once talked to a kid who transferred to a closer school because he wanted to help take care of his autistic sister while also trying to be a multi-sport athlete – only to still sit out half of the season because of the CIF transfer rule (before you could transfer for an athletic reason).

I’ve had conversations with kids in the past that had to juggle sports and a job late at night while taking A.P courses or while trying to stay eligible for their teams.

A good number of kids I’ve done stories on actually come from single-parent homes – and even their parents have to sacrifice personal “me” time to ensure their children would still be high GPA kids and respectful to others.

There are also the kids who lived in a troubled household, so they live with a gracious caregiver to ensure they can stay away from vices like drugs and gang violence. Sometimes they end up living in a house with up to seven people.

And these kids you can now find enrolled at a CSU, a UC, a California junior college or an Ivy League university.

“Fake it until I make it” didn’t work for them. They showed they all did things the old-fashioned way: Through hard work, perseverance and personal sacrifices.  

I’m still a believer in the latter.

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Lorenzo J. Reyna covers sports for Lee Central Coast Newspapers, particularly in the Lompoc Valley. He can be reached at lreyna@leecentralcoastnews.com

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