This week's New Yorker is not only the founder and coach of a girls' softball league, she's the players' biggest cheerleader. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Game day for the Lady Tigers Softball League is about more than hitting a home run. It's about knowing how to react when life throws you a curve.
For 11-year-old Asia Gonzalez and her teammates, it's also about learning the importance of healthy competition.
"Coach Jasmin is fun one moment, and then she gets serious," Gonzalez says. "If I would've never been here, I would've been home being lazy."
Coach Jasmin is Jasmin Sanchez. She founded the Ana Luisa Garcia Community Center on the Lower East Side in 2005. It's named after her late grandmother who raised her, and also raised her expectations.
"It was hard," Sanchez says. "You had the struggles. There was a lot of poverty, obviously. There was drugs, there was gangs, there was a lot of violence. A lot of young girls were getting pregnant at that age, at my age. It was definitely, everything that I've involved myself in, everything my grandmother involved me in, kept me away from all the negative things."
Growing up in the Baruch houses, playing softball as a teenager, Sanchez reaped the benefits of organized sports. They helped her excel in school and flourish in college. She wants other young girls to know they can do the same.
"They're going to get the skills to be competitive," Sanchez says. "Competitive in school, academically, competitive in the work field, competitive in sports. We want to give them that step, that extra push."
"She's a wonderful person, actually" says Alexandra Gonzalez, Asia Gonzalez's mother. "She's like a second mother to the kids."
Sanchez says the greatest gift she can give these young girls is the same gift her grandmother gave her.
"It makes me wake up at 7 a.m. Makes me pick up girls. Makes me babysit them, because they stay with me 'til 10 o'clock sometimes. It makes me do all those things, because I know that the reason that they want to be with me is because they see positivity and they feel safe to be around me, and just that feeling alone is a very humbling feeling."
So, for helping young women explore all opportunities without the fear of striking out, Jasmin Sanchez is our New Yorker of the Week.
For More Information
The Lady Tigers Softball League is open to girls ages four to 18. For more information, visit thealgcenter.com.