Madera Tribune File Photo
Madera Coyote standout Chris Chapa carries the ball in a 2015 game. He will continue his football career this fall at Wayne State College in Nebraska.
Former Madera Senior Athlete of the Year Chris Chapa will continue his football career in the next couple of weeks at Nebraska’s Wayne State College, he announced Monday.
After graduating from Madera in 2016, Chapa attended Fresno City College — twice — and then played at Merced College before getting the call to continue his career at Wayne State, a Div. II college in Nebraska.
“Right after I graduated, I went to Fresno City for two semesters,” Chapa said. “I didn’t think I was physical and mentally ready to play I took that year off to get bigger and faster.”
After his one year at Fresno City, Chapa joined former Madera Coyotes football head coach Bonner Cunnings at Merced College.
“He recruited me over there,” he said. “We wanted me to play for him. I took my talents over there for a year. There were a lot of Madera boys over there, so it was all love. It ended up being a successful season and we were 9-3. I did some good things for them ,so it was beneficial.”
Chapa finished third on the team in tackles and decided that he would head back to Fresno City to finish out his junior college career.
“Right after that season, I knew we were losing a lot of players,” Chapa said. “I talked to (Fresno City College head football coach) Tony Caviglia. I thought going to Fresno City, I would get a little more exposure. I wanted to go there and showcase my talents because they first wanted me. I decided to go and show them what I got.
“We had a good season. It was the best move to come to Fresno City. We won the conference and beat the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and lost to Laney in the NorCal championships. I got some good playing time and did some good things. I really like the people out here. The competition was great. Everything worked out at the end. I think I made the right choices.”
Chapa finished his junior college eligibility and was looking for the next school to head to. He had a few offers, including one from Div. I Mississippi Valley State. He originally picked Lincoln College, but Wayne State came in at the last minute to give Chapa an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“Wayne State kept in contact with me and didn’t show that much love until a few days ago,” Chapa said. “I have nothing, but respect for that coach. I felt when I talked to the coach from Wayne State and he had a different perspective than what the other coaches were telling me. He came from a small town like I am. I kind of related to him. Everything he was telling me, I liked. They are a really good team and play in a tough conference, playing some dominant schools. I think I’m going to a place that I’m getting the most love. There’s also some players over there I played against in the past from around the area. I felt like it would be a good fit for me.”
Chapa received, basically, a full-ride scholarship. Wayne State will take care of his tuition, food, books and board. He leaves for Nebraska on Tuesday.
“I don’t have to, basically, pay for anything, except for my flights to get there and come home,” he said. “It was an offer I really couldn’t refuse. It’s a great offer, great coaching staff, great program. There was nothing else to it.”
Chapa said that two of his former coaches, including Caviglia, were good friends with the Wayne State coach and sent them his highlight tape.
“They saw my film and saw what I could do,” Chapa said. “When I talked to Wayne State, they said they liked how I played, how I moved. They said they felt like I can be a potential fit for that starting spot. Of course, I’m going to have to compete for that starting spot. That’s how it’s always going to be. When they said I could make an impact on the defensive side, that sounded great for me.”
The plan is for Chapa to play a nickel linebacker, which is a hybrid linebacker that can move like a safety.
“I’ve been at this sport since 2005 and I get to show my talents at the highest level,” he said. “It’s been a dream come true.”
Chapa knows of his family history and knows his family name in Madera is synonymous with baseball, but football was always his love.
“I have a family background of nothing but baseball players,” Chapa said. “It’s still a blessing that I was a baseball player, but my love was always football. My mom’s side of the family has a football background. I’m the first Chapa to come out of Madera to go to school on a football scholarship. I’m definitely ready for this and prepping day by day.”
Chapa said he is ready for the weather change in the Midwest, but will still miss his family. However, he says it will be good for him to out on his own.
“I think living on my own will be a good thing and it can help me be a better person and get me ready for after college,” he said.
However, by signing to play for a college, Chapa has fulfilled a dream he’s had for the last 15 years.
“It is a dream come true coming out of Pop Warner, Pups, middle school and high school,” Chapa said. “You wouldn’t think a small-town kid coming out of Madera would make it on a football scholarship coming out of college or high school. Anything is possible. If you believe in it, if you dream of it, go out, sget it and succeed. There’s always a plan for everybody. If you follow God’s footsteps, he’s going to put you in the right place.”