Amber Flores comes back home to run camp for local athletes as part of Arlette Zazueta Scholarship fundraiser
CALEXICO, Calif., (KYMA, KECY) - On a beautiful and sunny Tuesday in the City of Calexico, dozens of teenage softball athletes gathered to display their skills, in hopes of finding a future collegiate home.
But that's not all the day brought to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Underneath it all was a great cause: a fundraiser to honor a special person, Arlette Zazueta. A kind-hearted young woman, who graduated from UCLA after wearing the scarlet and red and shining on the softball field for the Calexico Bulldogs.
Unfortunately, after a difficult battle with kidney cancer, Zazueta passed away in July of 2018.
Since then, the Zazueta family have ran a fundraiser in her honor to provide scholarships for high school students. While the fundraiser featured a softball tournament in previous years, it came with a new look in 2022.
Taking the stage this time around was a prospect camp for softball players across the Imperial Valley - the best way to help showcase a lot of the hidden talent that the area has to offer.
And the Imperial Valley showed out, rallying together close to 40 girls.
“It’s a time to celebrate her life and we want to remember her by doing something special," said Arlette's father, Manuel Zazueta. "She was a very humble person. Very athletic. Everyone that knew her, loved her. So this is very nice to see.”
At the forefront of exposing that "untapped" potential stood Amber Flores - a Calexico native who's roots began on the softball field in the Imperial Valley, before turning that into a star at Oklahoma University, and ultimately landing herself a head coaching position at Seminole State College.
To a family oriented, softball guru Flores, this was the perfect opportunity to come back home and help make a difference.
"To be able to represent her (Arlette) and this community, is something that really means a lot to me," said Flores. "I love this place, this is home. Days like today, I just cherish because it's an opportunity to be around softball, and not just that, but to the people I love, too. To be able to give back to these young ladies means everything."
Flores brings a lot with her, as well. The Calexico native carrying a "rock star-like" status to a lot of the young athletes in the Imperial Valley who point to her success as their motivation.
"I'm here today to play the game I love and try to be recruited by the best player to ever play college softball," said Calexico sophomore Carolina Chong with a big smile on her face. "It's awesome knowing that she's from the Valley because it shows me that I can be what she was. There's a lot of talent in the Valley and we all want to get recruited."
This camp being a perfect place to showcase these girls' skills for an area that has worked hard to create a lot of competitive softball for quite some time.
Flores' return home to serve her community represents the hopes and dreams of the Imperial Valley, all on a day to honor the inspiration and heart delivered by Arlette Zazueta. The perfect recipe for a special day.
"There's so much talent around here and I want nothing more than these young ladies to get out and have the opportunities, like I did, to play college softball and to fulfill their dreams," Flores added. "So, I'm excited to start the process with some of these young ladies. It's a great area and I think it has been untapped as far as athletics go, and I'm just trying to help these young ladies as much as I can."
A day to remember and honor, as well as a day to represent and showcase the Imperial Valley's potential for stardom. An incredible two-for-one deal.