Softball prospect camp raises funds for special fundraiser, while unlocking talent in Imperial Valley
Amber Flores returns home to lead a camp for local athletes as part of the Arlette Zazueta Scholarship fundraiser
CALEXICO, Calif., (KYMA, KECY) — On a beautiful and sunny Tuesday, dozens of teenage softball athletes gathered in the city of Calexico to show off their skills in hopes of finding a future college home.
But that’s not the whole day brought to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Underneath it all was a great cause: a fundraiser to honor someone special, Arlette Zazueta. A kindhearted young woman who graduated from UCLA after wearing the scarlet and red for the Calexico Bulldogs and shining on the softball field.
Sadly, Zazueta passed away in July 2018 after a long battle with kidney cancer.
Since then, the Zazueta family has held a fundraiser in her honor to provide scholarships for high school students. While the fundraiser has included a softball tournament in previous years, it has a new look for 2022.
Taking the stage this time was a prospective camp for softball players from across the Imperial Valley – the best way to showcase many of the hidden talent the area has to offer.
And the Imperial Valley showed itself, gathering almost 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 who knew her loved her. So that’s very nice to see.”
At the forefront of unveiling this “untapped” potential was Amber Flores – a Calexico native whose roots began on the Imperial Valley softball field before rising to stardom at Oklahoma University and eventually earning a position as head coach at Seminole State secured university.
For a family-oriented softball guru Flores, this was the perfect opportunity to come back home and make a difference.
“To be able to represent you (Arlette) and this community means a lot to me,” Flores said. “I love this place, this is my home. Days like today I just appreciate because it’s an opportunity to be with softball, and not only that, but for the people I love. Being able to give back to these young ladies means everything.”
Flores also brings a lot with it. A native of Calexico, she carries “rock star” status for many of the young athletes in the Imperial Valley, who cite her success as a motivation.
“I’m here today to play the game I love and try to get recruited by the best player who’s ever played college softball,” said Calexico sophomore Carolina Chong with a big smile on her face. “It’s great to know that she’s from the Valley because it shows me that I can be what she was. There is a lot of talent in the Valley and we all want to be recruited.”
This camp is a perfect place to showcase these girls’ skills for an area that has worked hard to create many competitive softballs for quite some time.
Flores’ return home to serve her community represents the hopes and dreams of the Imperial Valley, all in one day to honor the inspiration and heart of Arlette Zazueta. The perfect recipe for a special day.
“There is so much talent here and I want nothing more than for these young ladies to come out and have the opportunity to play college softball like me and fulfill their dreams,” Flores added. “So I look forward to starting the process with some of these young ladies. It’s a great area and I think it hasn’t been developed in terms of athletics and I’m just trying to help these young ladies in any way I can.”
A day to remember and honor, as well as a day to represent and showcase the Imperial Valley’s potential for glory. An incredible two-for-one deal.