Slim Lopez knew he wanted to be a military policeman. And he knew he wanted to become one sooner rather than later.
“If I went through (a traditional program), I couldn’t be a military policeman until I was 21,” said Lopez, a Santa Maria native whose birth name is Robert.
Thus, “I went into the Military Police Academy,” said Lopez, who was a prominent baseball player in the Santa Maria area for years.
“That way I could become a military policeman when I became 18. Growing up, I always wanted to be a military policeman.”
Lopez recently completed the program at the U.S. Army Military Police Academy at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks.
"We help provide food for the homeless. When you see people just trying to get by, not sure where their next meal is coming from, it really makes you appreciate what you have all the more," said Travis Welker.
Now he is awaiting his orders to report to Military Police Officer Camp Vilseck in Stuttgart, Germany.
Just when he will get those orders “is up in the air,” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Lopez.
“I hope to become a military policeman in a year. I’ll be there three years.
“Then they’ll either keep me in Germany or bring me back stateside,” said Lopez. “I want to make being a military policeman a career.”
Lopez played for the Santa Maria Southside Little League 11-12 All-Star squad that Eddie Garcia coached. That squad rolled to District 65 and Section 1 tournament championships.
Many of the players on that team, including Lopez, Garcia’s son, Trevor, Jaden LyBurtus, Sutton Tompkins and others, went on to distinguish themselves in high school ball later.
Lopez and Trevor Garcia were teammates on the Santa Maria High School baseball team that won the 2017 CIF Southern Section Division 6 championship. Lopez was the regular second baseman.
Trevor Garcia starred on the mound in the title game, and Santa Maria routed Moreno Valley 9-0.
Lopez played varsity ball for four years at Santa Maria. Then he played for a year at Hancock College. Lopez was a second baseman for the Bulldogs.
Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the c…
Then it was on to the Military Police Academy. To qualify, “I had to score high enough on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and get a security clearance,” said Lopez.
At the Military Police Academy, said Lopez, there was plenty of classwork.
“There were slideshows, you’d be taking notes then you’d do exercises to make sure you maintained what you learned in class.”
Lopez acknowledged that training at the Military Police Academy was an adjustment for him.
“It was a lot different, going outside and training with snow on the ground, going out in negative-degree weather, not the 70’s, like in Santa Maria. It did take awhile to adjust.”
Lopez said the pandemic has affected his workout routine. “Because of COVID-19, I haven’t been able to work out much outside of class.”
Lopez hit .336 during his days with the Saints, recording 102 hits and scoring 57 runs in 84 career games.
Player of the Decade: We're looking for the top player of the last 10 seasons
The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News is looking for the top football player from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County over the last 10 seasons of high school ball.
See who our nominees are thus far.
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