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Sports · September 17, 2019

Faces of Fauquier: His love of sports trumped winning

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“The point is to make sure the kids enjoy what they’re doing,” Raul Heras says of the Warrenton Youth Sports Club.
Winning to me is the least important thing. With this whole program, the participation, the enjoyment, instilling the team effort into a young kid — that’s the value.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Doing the right thing, the Orlean man volunteered to coach his son’s under-6 soccer team more than two decades ago.

Little did Raul Heras — then new to the community — know that what seemed like a harmless enough gesture would put him at the helm of a Warrenton-based youth sports organization that today serves more than 2,000 children a year.

His son David played for a Fauquier County Soccer Club team.

As a club board member, Mr. Heras grew frustrated because he and others couldn’t correct what he called “deficiencies” within the organization.

So, the research and development software specialist, his wife Diane and Oscar Blanco-Alacala started the Warrenton Youth Soccer Club in 1999.

“We had seven kids in the first season,” Mr. Heras, 63, recalled with a laugh. “We focused on this group of kids — playing, training, having fun. Then, we opened up the registration countywide. Within probably two or three seasons we were 100-something kids.”

As it added other sports — basketball, lacrosse and volleyball — the organization renamed itself the Warrenton Youth Sports Club about seven years ago.

The nonprofit’s mission remains the same, Mr. Heras said.

“Winning to me is the least important thing,” explained the Madrid native. “With this whole program, the participation, the enjoyment, instilling the team effort into a young kid — that’s the value.”

He added: “The point is to make sure the kids enjoy what they’re doing, so they want to do it again.”

After 20 years of leading the club, Mr. Heras retired in May.

About a month earlier, Mrs. Heras, the club’s secretary, also left.

A year-and-half ago, Mr. Blanco-Alcala, the treasurer, departed because of family and job demands.

“Without them, this would never have happened,” Mr. Heras said of his wife, Mr. Blanco-Alcala and the club’s success. “We all got our hands dirty every day. We all chipped in.”

All too often, people give him more credit than he deserves, the former director suggested.

“My name gets thrown out there like it’s me who did this,” Mr. Heras said. “It wasn’t me. It was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of volunteers throughout the years who dedicated a lot of time.”

He thought long and hard about his decision quit the club, Mr. Heras said.

But, “It was time to do something else,” he concluded. “My wife kept questioning me, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’ I said, ‘Yes. We put in 20 years. We’ve built a great foundation, in my belief. And, I think it’s time to move on.’ ”

He recruited the organization’s new five-member board.

“I know that the club is in good hands. And, I know they will do even a better job than we did.”

• Age

• Home 
Near Orlean

• Work
Research and development specialist, Software AG, Madrid/Reston offices, 1991-2016; assistant programmer, IBM, 1977-91.

• Why did you start the Warrenton Youth Soccer Club?
When we got here our son David’s under-6 team needed a coach. I said I would do it.

I got on the board of the Fauquier County Soccer Club. We felt there were some deficiencies within that club, which I won’t go into. We were unable to change things. So we started our own club.

• Family
Wife, Diane; five children, including two from a previous marriage.

• Education
Francis Lewis (N.Y.) High School, 1973

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Twenty-three years.

• Why do you live here? 
When we came back from Spain, we had to pick Boulder, Colo., or Reston. It was job-related. We contacted a real estate agent here. We rented a house, sight unseen. We started looking for a house and we purchased our home.

We figured Fauquier is a good place. I’m going to work in Reston — a small commute back then.

We moved here because it was a small community. When we got here, there was maybe one or two traffic lights in Warrenton — nice people, peaceful, tranquil community. This was a pretty good option.

• How do you describe this county? 
Horse country; one of the richest counties in the country. The people are interesting, to say the least. They’re not as open as I’m accustomed to — shyness, I guess. It’s a nice place.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
As far as the government part of it, they should get more involved in the community and the youth in the community. It took forever to get (the WARF ballfields) done. And, we paid for it. Not a dime comes from the county.

It took 20-something years for the Central Sports Complex (a county-government funded project along Meetze Road southeast of Warrenton) to become a reality.

• What do you do for fun? 
I’m fixing up my house. I have a little workshop. I spend time with my lovely wife. I like to cook. We have a vegetable garden.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
My house.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
I have no idea. Hopefully, much the same the way it is now. Hopefully, it won’t grow too much.

• Favorite TV show?
I don’t really have one. I like to watch soccer games. My favorite team is Real Madrid.

• Favorite movie? 
“Amazing Grace and Chuck.”

• Favorite book?
“QB VII,” by Leon Uris.

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Spain.

• Favorite food? 

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My father. He told me if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. You don’t have to do it bad two or three times. Just get it done. If you’re going to buy something, instead of going and buying the cheapest, buy the best. You only to buy it once.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
Probably divide it up by my kids, my wife and me. We’d probably travel — maybe buy some property in Spain. Fix up the house a bit.
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