Monrovia’s Nick Bueno had a number of options. He could have played baseball at Cal State University, Northridge. There was the prospect of a football career at Colorado State University.
But in the end, only one school afforded him the opportunity to do what he really wanted: play both football and baseball at the collegiate level.
And that’s why Cal Lutheran University was the perfect fit for Bueno, who will play the two sports he loves for the Division III Kingsmen next year.
“It’s really exciting,” Bueno said. I’ve been wanting to do this. Looking forward to playing both sports. I’m just mostly excited to staying close to home.”
Bueno excelled in both football and baseball throughout his four-year career at Monrovia.
He passed for 1,828 yards and 23 touchdowns, rushed for another 1,513 yards and 14 TDs last year in leading the Wildcats to their first CIF-Southern Section football championship in school history. Those stats plus Monrovia's team success helped Bueno earn the CIF Mid-Valley Division Offensive Player of the Year honors last December.
In 2009, Bueno earned Rio Hondo League co-MVP honors in baseball, and he was a first team all-league selection this year as a .411-hitting shortstop.
Originally, though, Bueno was all set to give up football and focus exclusively on baseball at Cal State Northridge. But Bueno’s competition in a March 7-on-7 passing tournament rekindled his love of football and reopened the possibility of playing both sports in college.
“I decided that I loved playing football too much,” Bueno said. “I didn’t care what the division was.”
That opened the door for Cal Lutheran, and according to an April report from the Pasadena Star-News, Bueno was all set to commit to the Kingsmen but renewed interest from Colorado State and Northern Arizona University gave him pause.
But neither school afforded Bueno the option of playing baseball. Plus both schools, especially CSU, were far from home.
And for Bueno, the ability to continue life as a two-sport star at a school close enough for his family to attend most of his games outweighed the allure of sticking to just one gig — albeit at the NCAA’s highest level.
“I’ve been wanting to play both sports since I can remember because both are very important to me,” Bueno said.
He’ll get that opportunity at Cal Lutheran – a school that both Monrovia co-baseball coach Dave Moore and head football coach Ryan Maddox feel is the best choice for what Bueno wants to do.
“It’s great,” Moore said. “I think he’s going to a perfect school for him.”
“It fits what he wants and that’s why I believe it’s a good fit,” Maddox said. “He wants to go to a school somewhere close to home. He would like to play both sports. … Cal (Lutheran) would allow him to play both of those.”
Bueno said he expects to play a little bit of everything this fall for the Kingsmen: cornerback, wide receiver, returner and quarterback. While made his reputation playing mainly quarterback for the Wildcats, Maddox said that Bueno’s athleticism should make the transition an easy one.
“I know they’re interested in moving him around,” Maddox said. “They have mentioned that they use him in multiple places. … We know that he can do it. He’s very competitive and very athletic. I know he’s going to excel.”
“ … He was a human highlight real. If you saw him on field or saw him live it was very apparent who the best player on the field was.”
Bueno will play a similar role on the diamond during the spring as he expects to split his time between shortstop, second base and the outfield.
Bueno, who has received about $25,000 in financial aid in addition to number of local scholarships since Division III schools don’t give out athletic scholarships, said he plans to major in exercise science at Cal Lutheran. Bueno said he’d like to become an athletic trainer and then return to Monrovia to coach football in the future.