Keeping the faith

Always have faith in God, never have regrets — that’s how Delbert Alvarado lives his life.

Brought up in a close-knit family and raised with a strong Christian background, the USF senior punter maintains the same attitude that was passed down to him from his family: Trust in God at all times.

And never was that attitude tested more than in the past six months.

A staple in USF’s special teams unit as kicker and punter for nearly three years, Alvarado faced adversity last season when he was stripped of his role as place kicker after going 1-for-4 in the Bulls’ first two games.

The position was given to Maikon Bonani, who became a hero when he nailed a 43-yard field goal to knock off then-No. 13 Kansas at Raymond James Stadium. Alvarado watched from the sidelines.

He could have been upset and held a grudge, but instead he went to the one source he has always been able to go to when down — God.

“Physically, it’s tough because you can start pointing fingers and making excuses, but it was my faith in God that helped me through that time,” Alvarado said. “I stayed in the word, because he has blessed me with a lot of things. I don’t fear, because he’s always with me.”

And Alvarado tries to give back. Staying an active member at Wellswood Baptist Church is something the USF punter holds close to his heart. He frequently sings in the choir, plays the trombone and performs Christian hip-hop for the youth group.

“What you see is what you get with ‘Delbie,'” said Wellswood senior pastor Don Letzring. “There are some people who are religious, and there are some people who have strong faith. For Delbie, it’s not about just being religious. He doesn’t put on an act. He has a genuine relationship with the Lord, and that’s what carries him through.”

His parents brought Alvarado up in the church, attending and participating on a regular basis.

“The Alvarados are very close,” Letzring said. “You see them joke with each other. They’re very supportive and they rarely miss one of Delbie’s games.”

Alvarado’s sister Nisa serves as interim youth pastor at Wellswood. She said the past year has been a struggle for him.

“It’s been a character-building year,” she said. “Whether it’s kicking or punting, my brother just wants go out his senior year and help whichever way he can. This past year has been a reality check and it was tough for him, but he wants to go out on a high note.”

It was hard for Alvarado to completely let go of the position he held during USF’s rise into the national spotlight. In his first two seasons as kicker, he hit 24 field goals for the Bulls, as well as serving as full-time punter, helping the Bulls make consecutive bowl-game appearances.

However, when it was time for him to step aside and let Bonani work as place kicker, there was no remorse from Alvarado.

“That’s not who Delbert is or how he acts,” Bonani said. “He’s always had a great attitude in everything he does.”

Alvarado and Bonani have built a good friendship. Whether working out, eating lunch or just hanging out, both try to help each other for success on the field.

“Delbert is my best friend on the team,” Bonani said. “Ever since I’ve been here at USF, he’s shown me around and been a good friend to me. We always have each other’s back no matter what. When I need something, he’s there. When he needs something, I’m there.”

Alvarado, who is a native of Honduras, said he’s trying to use last season to focus on USF’s punting duties, which he was initially recruited to do so in the first place.

“This is it: senior year, one last chance,” he said.

No matter what, Alvarado said he knows he’ll always have his family and his faith to
support him.

“I’m focused on doing whatever I can for coach (Jim) Leavitt and the team, and I also know that I’ve got such a strong family to back me up. I couldn’t be happier with this situation,” he said.