Jose Gutierrez wears many hats in his family and on the Chelsea High basketball team as well, but this week, he is wearing the captain’s hat and has taken one step in leading an experienced hoops team to a good year.
Chelsea kicked off its season on Tuesday against Essex Aggie and cruised to an easy victory behind the defensive effort and leadership of Gutierrez.
The Record sat down with Gutierrez on Monday afternoon, and the two-time captain and senior said they have a scrappy team this year.
“We have a very scrappy defense this year,” he said. “I’m excited to see how we do on the defensive end and how that will create our offense. We’re going to be all up in your face – rah-rah – trying to put pressure on you so you’ll turn over the ball. It’s a very scrappy team.”
The team returns seven seniors for second-year Coach Judah Jackson, and Gutierrez said they have learned from their playoff loss last year against Waltham.
“Last year we didn’t have the experience,” he said. “this year, we’re full of seniors. If we all do what we’re supposed to be doing, we’ll have that confidence come playoff time to get that kind of win.”
Gutierrez, 18, grew up in Chelsea and went to the Kelly School and the Wright Middle School before landing at Chelsea High. He also played in the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) and said it made him more of a team player.
“It helped me to focus more on the game and not just going out as an individual player,” he said. “Every year it was myself and another kid who did everything for the team. We would win, win, win and then during the championship we would always lose because we were just two guys and never involved our other team members. That helped me grow as a player because my IQ for basketball got a lot better.”
Same could be said for his academic IQ as well.
Gutierrez busies himself taking a rigorous college preparatory schedule and is enrolled in the Bunker Hill Community College program that allows students to take college classes in high school.
“It is a lot more difficult this year,” he said. “Right now I’m trying to focus on my high school classes so I can go to Bunker Hill next year and pursue my dream of becoming an EMT.”
Becoming an EMT is very personal for Gutierrez, who said two years ago he and his family watched helplessly as his father had a heart attack in their home. When the paramedics arrived, he said he was impressed with their skill and how they were able to care for his dad.
It hooked him.
“Two years ago my dad had a heart attack 20 minutes before we celebrated Christmas,” he said. “We celebrate at midnight and right before he had a heart attack. It was so tough to see my dad having cold sweats and shaking and I couldn’t do anything. That’s really when I knew I want to be an EMT.”
Gutierrez also runs track and plays soccer too, having been on this fall’s outstanding Chelsea High soccer team that went undefeated in the regular season.
However, Gutierrez also has to work as a janitor at a local radio station, where his parents supervise him. He is also responsible for watching his 9-year-old sister, who has become the team mascot and honorary water girl.
He said every time he hits the practice floor or suits up for a game, he has to thank his parents, Rafael and Nolbia. He said it’s because of them that he even gets to still play sports.
“They have helped me so much,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m a senior and I need to work and save money. It’s because of them I’m able to do three sports every year and do what I want to do.”
Gutierrez and the Red Devils will host Greater Lowell at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, in the gym.