Over the weekend, the City of Lancaster partnered with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Softball team, the Boys & Girls Club of the Antelope Valley, and Hernando and Fran Marroquin to gift UCLA Softball game tickets to 40 deserving children. The March 9 excursion offered local youth the opportunity to learn and grow, while enjoying a night out at the ball game.
“Exposing our youth to the world beyond our City is vital to their development,” said City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “This day trip was so much more than a softball game. The children of the Boys & Girls Club were immersed in university culture and given a preview of what their future can be, if they continue to work hard and invest in themselves.”
The participating boys and girls, who were all referred by the Boys & Girls Club of the Antelope Valley, were treated to lunch courtesy of Hernando and Fran Marroquin, prior to the Women’s Softball game. As Lancaster community advocates, Hernando and Fran wanted to provide the children in the Antelope Valley the opportunity to not only see college sports, but also speak with students about their experiences in college.
“It was truly a pleasure to spend a Saturday with the youth of the Boys & Girls Club,” said Hernando Marroquin. “Fran and I really wanted to expose our young community to the college environment and had hoped that this trip would inspire each of the boys and girls to continue to pursue their dreams, and judging by their smiles I believe that we achieved just that.”
With tickets that were generously donated by UCLA in hand, the youth group watched as the Bruins took on Liberty University. The Lady Bruins defeated Liberty on a walk-off RBI double by Rachel Garcia, who grew up in the Antelope Valley area and attended Highland High School, where she was twice named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. In 2018, Garcia was also recognized as the Honda Sport Award winner for softball; USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year; National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Player of the Year; and, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network for Women (espnW) National Softball Player of the Year. Such accolades set an inspiring example of what’s possible for local A.V. youth.
Transportation for Saturday’s trip to UCLA was provided by City of Lancaster staff, who also chaperoned the excursion. This collaboration is just one representation of the many ways local partnerships benefit Lancaster’s youth. In January, as part of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the City and a number of volunteers assisted in a cleanup and painting project at the Boys & Girls Club of the Antelope Valley Lancaster facility. The project resulted in value being added to the vital resources provided by the Boys & Girls Club organization.
“As we encourage our youth to invest in themselves, we must also invest in them. It is imperative that we as a community offer support and avenues for their advancement. I am immensely grateful to the Marroquins, UCLA, and the Boys & Girls Club of the Antelope Valley for making opportunities like last weekend’s collegiate experience possible for the children of our Valley,” concluded Mayor Parris.