Growing up in the diverse, middle class community of Teaneck, NJ, and ten minutes from my even more diverse birthplace of New York City, I was always exposed to the beauties of different people and cultures every day. No matter who we were, where we came from, or how much money we had, we all got along; we were proud to be from a place like this, especially since many Americans never had the same luxury. And when we wanted to relate with someone, we could, because there was a spectrum of people who related to us culturally, religiously, racially or simply through the things we liked. This diversity carried to all sports teams Teaneck had to offer. Our dynamic was that of a family: natural and everlasting. We played together for all of our lives, and we were all phenomenal athletes.
But things changed as our teams grew older. In high school, our teams would compete against other high schools just 10 minutes away from ours, and not only did we look different from our opponents, but so did our houses, our cars, our schools, and even our playing fields. We didn't have state-of-the-art athletic facilities like they did, nor did we get elite athletic training like they could. This was also the first time many of us were exposed to racism. At many sporting events, it was not uncommon to hear racial slurs coming from an opposing player or parent. This was the first time many of us sympathized, empathized and fought for our brothers and sisters who might have been different from us. This is the first time we were all finally aware of an extreme communal divide. It was at this time when I realized that the world was different from the cultural utopia I had grown up in.
At 16, I found the AMAZING world of Girl's Baseball through the Baseball For All National Tournament. I finally met girls who played on the boy's baseball team like I did, and they were from all around the country. But to attend this tournament, I had to create a GoFundMe to raise money for my trip. I come from a single parent household, and my mother could not comfortably afford the travel costs that came with attending this tournament being held across the country. But with the money we raised and with whatever money my family had, I was able to have a blast and help my team get 2nd place in the 16U division. After leaving the tournament, I couldn't help but notice that most of the girls did not look like me; they didn't talk like me, they weren't from the NYC area like me or come from many different cultural backgrounds. I knew how important it was to have people to relate to because it builds chemistry in a team. More diversity also promotes cultural awareness and expands perspectives on the life we all live. Regardless, I made amazing lifelong friends, but I found the sudden urge to expand this community in many ways; not only to my community who was unaware of the opportunity, but to people more like me and who were also extremely different from me.
Two years later, in 2018, I had the idea to create Reinas Baseball, and 2021 is the year we finally make our debut.
I did not want others to feel a divide in sports like I did in high school, either for their gender, race or culture.
I did not want great athletes to struggle to fund experiences that would not allow them to play a sport they so desperately loved. I also wanted different people from different cultures to intermingle and learn more about one another; to learn about each other's struggles just as well as each other's accomplishments. I figured that if I was inspired to bring more girls of color, and all girls in general, to play baseball in NYC, other girls around the country would be inspired to do the same in their community...and they already are. As we speak, many people in the Girl's Baseball community are trying to reach out to girls from many different demographics. When more young athletes are brought into this world, Girl's Baseball will be a beautiful mixture of athletes playing the game they love. I chose the name "Reinas" not only to include a part of my Hispanic heritage, but to make the girls on our team know that they are "Reinas" or "Queens", too; on and off the field; that they come from a long line of remarkable women and must continue the success to inspire the generations of girls to come.
Reinas Baseball is not just a team, it is my story and it is the story of many young women around the country. It is an ode to the women who have fought for equal rights in sports; an ode to the Black, Brown and Asian girls who never had many athletes or coaches to look up to, and an ode to those who do not have the financial capability to participate in the amazing world of sports. I just want you girls to know that here at Reinas Baseball, we see you, we love you and we're here to help you. Continue to be the best athlete and woman you can be.