Aldo Infante tries football and plays quarterback in a true Hollywood story


Senior quarterback Aldo Infante never played football before this season in Hollywood. He led the Sheiks to a 5-4 record after the team went 0-8. (Eric Sondheimer/Los Angeles Times)

Aldo Infante looks up from the Hollywood High football field and sees history: the Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theater, the Hollywood sign, the school auditorium.

“I know that’s where everyone wants to come,” he said. “People come for opportunities. Many superstars, actors, comedians have come here and fulfilled their dreams.

Infante has lived in Hollywood most of her life and stars in a sports fable even wackier than Eli Manning’s portrayal of the legendary Chad Powers.

Somehow, in his senior year of high school, with no previous experience in any team sport, Infante, at quarterback, led Hollywood to a 5-4 record. Last season the Sheiks went 0-8.

How a 6-foot-2, 205-pound guy went unnoticed walking around campus and wasn’t recruited to play any sports until he showed up for soccer tryouts in a summer park last is simply inconceivable. But it happened.

He attended Fairfax as a freshman and said he applied to play football after the season started, but was too late to join. COVID-19 has reached its second year, so no sports. As a junior, he transferred to Hollywood. He wanted to try football but said an attempt at a medical did not happen. The doctor was too busy. Infante would show up to watch home games as Hollywood went winless.

Enter first-year head coach Alistair Jones, who hadn’t coached since he was an assistant at Lynwood Firebaugh in 2015. He hosted trials last summer. A player told Infante to join a Zoom call for those interested in playing. He showed up for testing at a park. There were three quarterbacks.

“I was, ‘Oh my God,'” Jones said. “Of the three, he was the best with his size and his arm.”

Infante had no problem picking up games. He had an issue in his throwing motion which has been fixed. Then came the time to see how he would fare playing tackle football.

“The first time I tackled, I remember, was tough for me,” he said. “I didn’t know how to tackle. I was, ‘I have a big body. I have to put it to use.’ Then everyone started hitting me and people smaller than me were beating me up. I was, ‘OK, this is a lot harder.’ In my first game, when I got hit by someone, I didn’t feel it, but I was like, ‘Whoa, it happened really fast.’ »

Infante’s football career almost ended after two games. Against Van Nuys, in a 7-0 loss, he wanted to come in late in the game to play defensive end in a bid to help the team. He began to argue loudly with Jones on the sidelines, with fans able to hear.

“Put me in, I’m better than all of them,” Infante said.

Jones replied, “I’m the coach, you’re the player. If you want my job, you should apply.

Infante was sent to the locker room not knowing if his football career was over.

It was a moment that could have changed his life. He didn’t know how to express himself when he was frustrated. He had no father and had never played a team sport. Baseball coach Charles Dickerson spoke to him. The sports director too. Three days later, Jones spoke to her.

“It was a teachable moment,” Jones said. “That’s why I coach football. Some of these kids don’t have a father. I’m not trying to be the father. I’m trying to be the role model. Sometimes you have to be the wrong person .

Infante said being taken out of the game and then returning to the team was a life lesson he will never forget.

“Since that day, I listen more and listen to his advice,” Infante said. “Everything had an impact – all the footage.”

Unfortunately, the Hollywood season is over. The Sheiks were not selected for the City Section playoffs.

Whether Infante will continue to play football remains uncertain, but what he’s learned this season is something he’ll take with him to his next job, his next relationship, his next awkward moment.

“I think being fatherless was tough because I never really had that person to guide me,” he said. “Coach was kind of my father figure, teaching me stuff.”

As the school quarterback with the most famous stadium setting in Los Angeles, Infante was a real Chad Powers at the school known for producing stars out of nowhere. After playing zero sports for three years in high school, he also plans to play football and baseball.

What a Hollywood story.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


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