Originally from Columbia, Alex Montoya moved to San Diego at the age of four in order to receive the medical attention he needed since he was born a triple amputee.Â Growing up, he focused on three particular goals: attending Notre Dame, working in baseball, and writing a book. However, he has accomplished a lot more than that.
Alex was one of the first children in San Diego to be mainstreamed from a special education school to a regular public school in 1980.
â€œWe were really on the cutting edge of doing some revolutionary things within education, so I was really proud of that even though I had no clue that I was doing that at that edge,â€
he says recalling how his special education class began visiting the neighboring public school once a week. Though this was a battle at first, eventually there was a wait list of teachers who wanted to be a part of an integrated classroom.
Alex accomplished one of the first goals he set for himself when he was accepted in Notre Dame. He knew he wanted to attend this university for various reasons. He wanted a traditional campus and he liked that it was a spirituality based school. â€œI wanted to see what life was like outside of Cali, and the answer to that is very cold,â€ he adds.
However, people didnâ€™t fail to point out the challenges leaving to Notre Dame would bring. â€œItâ€™s far from home, theres not a carne asada taco stand on every block,â€ he lists as examples.
Regardless of these challenges, he still went to his top choice. â€œI chose to look at the positives, instead of just the negatives, and I think Iâ€™ve always been wired that way because of my disability,â€ he explains.
Senior year in Notre Dame he knew it was time to start working towards achieving his next goal: working in baseball. He points to baseball as a critical part of growing up. â€œWhen I first got to the US and I was four , IÂ arrived and I did what any other kid does, turned on the TV and saw this amazing sport,â€ he explains. â€œAnd then the next day I turned on the tv and there it was again, and then the next day I turned on the tv and there it was again, and I said wow this is the best novela ever, it just keeps on goingâ€. He says watching baseball was the way he learned english.
Like any other kid, Alex wanted to play baseball, but he quickly realized he wouldnâ€™t be able to because of his prosthetics. â€œI have two choices,Â I could feel sad and bitter and angry that I canâ€™t do these things, or I could learn other ways to be involved,â€ Alex said. And through his love for reading the newspaper he learned about the organization behind the team, and that is where he wanted to be. So at the end of his senior year in college he wrote to the Padres, letting them know his whole life goal was to work for them. They brought him in for an interview, but before becoming the manager of Latino Affairs for the Padres, he was an usher. â€œThey told me to get more professional experience, to figure out what Iâ€™m good at,â€ he recalls.
Notre Dame, check. Working in baseball, check. Writing a book? Double check. Montoya has published two books, Swinging for the Fences and The Finish Line. He describes his first book as an immigrantsâ€™ journey from Columbia to the United States and how he made his goals come true, with the added challenge of having three prosthetics. His second book, The Finish Line, tells the journey of him as a runner in the Rock and Roll Marathon back in 2010. Both books include some of the core principles he lives by, which have motivated all kinds of readers.
Meeting Alex Montoya was an honor. The energy and light he brings to a room is indescribable and I hope people can experience this first hand. However, reading his books may bring the same magic. You can find them for sale on Amazon. You can also catch Alex eating some of his favorite food at a home game in Petco Park. He recommends Philâ€™s BBQ and Terentino Sausages. Something I learned about baseball during my interview with him, â€œthe game doesnâ€™t really start until the 6th inningâ€. Good to know Alex, thanks!