PSJA North’s Vecchio committing to UTRGV football program represents new opportunities for the university
As the senior offensive lineman for PSJA North Early College High School, Joe Derek Vecchio became the first player from the Rio Grande Valley to commit to UTRGV’s upcoming football program.
“I'm really grateful for the opportunity, I'm glad I can be that example for other people,” Vechio said. “It's a really big encouragement because a lot of times we don't get opportunities like this, especially at big schools. So to have a big school nearby, it can give everybody that door."
UTRGV officials said Vechio is one of many pieces of the puzzle coming together as the university gets ready for their first football season in 2025.
“This is going to be very important,” UTRGV Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Strategic Initiatives Sara Hernandez said. “We just hired about a 100 student employees, they all started about two weeks ago."
Prior to the hiring boom, the department only had 30 employees.
“A lot of them are freshmen and sophomores, so they will be here when football is here, and we're trying to train them and get them ready,” Hernadez said.
The action on the field will bring revenue to the University — and the Valley as a whole.
Hernandez says merchandise sales have more than doubled since the program was announced. Several businesses have begun adding UTRGV merchandise to their shops, she added.
This is the Valley's first Division 1 college football team, and recruitments are bringing more people to the Valley.
“You have their parents, you're talking about hotels being used, restaurants, everything in the community will be utilized to sustain what this is going to bring,” Hernandez said. “So that's something we’re very proud of because it's going to impact the economics of our region."
UTRGV has currently sold over 2,300 season tickets. They expect to sell out by the time the inaugural 2025 season begins.
“That's a great opportunity for us to come together as the Valley and support one single team, and we're very excited to be a part of that,” Hernandez said.
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