Softball prospect camp raises funds for special fundraiser, while unlocking talent in Imperial Valley
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.