“We all face adversity, but it’s up to each of us to do the best we can with the opportunities we have,” says Ralph Alicea, who recently celebrated his first anniversary with Walmart.
Ralph works as a Service Shop Preventative Maintenance Technician at Walmart Distribution Center 6830 in Raymond, New Hampshire. He performs annual safety inspections and maintenance on Walmart trailers. As trailers age, rust on metal supports can cause problems.
“We make sure the trailers are safe and roadworthy, because we don’t want any problems when they’re going down the road carrying 80,000 pounds of merchandise,” he explains.
Ralph and the other techs in Raymond check more than 100 trailers each month.
He likes his work schedule: four straight days of 10-hour shifts from 3:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. When he gets home, he sleeps a bit and then enjoys spending time with his kids and grandkids. One of their favorite shared activities is youth flag football.
Instilling Game-Winning Confidence
“I’ve always been passionate about football,” he says. However, Ralph grew up in the inner city of Boston and never had the opportunity to play organized football.
Ralph married young and moved to New Hampshire, where he raised his kids. In 2014, he heard about a local youth flag football league. He took his daughter, then age 10, and his grandson, then age 9, and formed a team.
“Flag football is a lot like schoolyard football, but instead of two-hand touch, you’re pulling flags,” Ralph explains.
For the past eight years, Ralph has given back to his community by coaching a youth flag football team called The Steelers. With three eight-week competitive sessions per year, Ralph’s team quickly bonded. Under his strong encouragement, even timid players gained confidence.
“I tell them, ‘I believe in you.’ Then I ask, ‘Can you believe in yourself?’” Ralph says.
His message has definitely had an impact. Since 2014, Ralph’s team has had eight undefeated sessions, won 10 championships and chalked up an amazing record of 106 wins and only five losses! Ralph’s team is known throughout the league as a very competitive group.
They even beat a nationally ranked team by two points! “It’s a memory that we all cherish,” he says. “I’m thankful for these moments we get to enjoy together.”
A True Calling
“I’ve coached 70 or 80 kids over the years. I love encouraging the kids, helping them believe in themselves and inspiring them to give it all they have.”
“It’s a great feeling, knowing that I can inspire my players,” he shares. “I wish I had that kind of encouragement when I was growing up. Every kid should have someone who believes in them and pushes them to be the best they can be.”
Ralph credits a higher power for his direction in life. “I feel like this is my calling; God put me on this path to help these kids,” he explains.
Ralph also encourages his players in other areas of their lives, including school. “I want all of my kids to make a difference in this world. To learn to love and respect everyone and everything. And to be the best human beings we can possibly be.”
The next competitive youth flag football session starts soon: Go Steelers!