by Jamey Bulloch
Junior defensive end Mandy Alonso has a bit of a dual personality. His bulked, strong outer shell has successfully defended and tackled for Virginia; but off the field, Alonso is someone completely different. Alonso is also a dog-lover who loves the color pink and whose hobbies include watching film and television shows.
From a tough, aggressive football player to a normal, introverted male, Alonso is a highlighted player in the program.
As an only child, the Miami native received the greatest support from his parents. Both his mother, Yamily, and father, Armando were born in Cuba but now reside in Miami. This distance does not stop them from being Alonso’s number-one support team.
“My parents come to every game, home and away,” Alonso said.
With every family, especially those of an athlete, off-time away from sport is hard to find. With the football season carrying over into the winter, there is also a lack of an extended Christmas break. Alonso however, remains unfazed.
“We just celebrated Christmas whenever we got back,” Alonso said. “It really doesn’t matter – the day really, I still get to experience it with my family at home. But even at the bowl games, we get to experience it as a team which is really fun because during the whole bowl experience, at least as a D-line, we do gift exchange.”
It is clear to Alonso that off-time is about family and friends, regardless of where you are or how much time you have.
His personality off the field is more relaxed and shy. Outside of football, his hobbies include watching movies and looking after his dog, Chanel, who stays with him and his teammates in Charlottesville.
“I like to watch movies a lot, some of my favorites are The Dark Knight and Joker,” Alonso said. “But if I were to choose a genre to watch for the rest of my life it would be comedy. I also watch Netflix all the time, shows like Shameless and Gossip Girl.”
Alonso compares this quieter side of him to his focus and determination when setting foot on the football field. He admits to being two completely different people when playing, versus when relaxing at home or being with friends.
“Once I’m out there it’s just like I’m locked in,” Alonso said. “Off the field I’m like completely opposite, so it’s a good mixture. I love being able to express myself out there because I’m not an extrovert-type to go and talk to everybody, so I can just go out there and be me. I can just do whatever I want, I can just make plays the way I want to make plays and people are able to experience that.”
Alonso gives a lot of credit to his teammates for both his inspiration and happiness of being on the football team.
“Having your brothers out there, that I worked all year with, that just makes it that much sweeter,” Alonso said. “When they make plays, it’s just awesome that I get to share that with them.”
The emphasis he places in referring to his teammates as brothers is unmistakable. This team plays as a second family to him, he will go to battle with them and form tighter bonds with them on the field, but will also take the necessary time to himself when off the field.
“Every team I have been on, I had these brothers because I am an only child – so they are the people I lean on if I needed anything,” Alonso said.
Alonso, with still much time left to spend with his Virginia family, does not look too far into the future as of yet. He intends to work towards a professional career in the NFL but is allowing himself the time to still figure it out.
In his typically calm way. “We’ll see how that works out,” Alonso said.