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Softball Reflects on Hispanic Heritage

Oct 15, 2021

From September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated across the United States. For many of our Sun Devil student-athletes, including me, this month gives us the opportunity to reflect and look back at what it means to be Hispanic. There are currently six student-athletes on the softball team that identify as Hispanic; Yannira Acuña, Emily Cazares, Lindsay Lopez, Savannah Price, Alynah Torres, and Kristiana Watson.
Because of stigma and stereotypes, lots of Hispanic people feel added pressure to perform. According to Price, being Hispanic means you have to prove the doubters wrong.
"I'm both Mexican and white and I have a little bit of Indian from my dad, but being Hispanic to me means we have to constantly prove people wrong. I work on making things easier for myself by working for what I want."
On the other side of the diamond, Torres thinks being Hispanic means showcasing your culture and roots to the world. Torres uses softball as her platform to showcase the beauty in being Hispanic.
"Growing up, my family has always been big on our heritage. There's not a lot of female Latina athletes that make it far in softball, especially as a career. So, I take pride in showing off what my Hispanic heritage is and I make sure that I'm showing that side through the way I play, such as with my walk-up song." 

Lopez sees being Hispanic on the softball team as a chance to represent her last name and the family that came before her.

"It makes me want to do the things in life to honor my last name, Lopez. I know that I'm not only representing myself but my past and future family members." 
This month means a lot to those six student-athletes because it gives them a chance to show off their Hispanic heritage. All six would attest that being Hispanic centers around one core value: Family. From the huge birthday gatherings for the cousins turning two, to the Sunday carne asadas, family time is a trademark quality for Hispanic families.
"I love how Mexican culture values family. I wouldn't choose anything over my family because they mean that much to me," Lopez said. 
For Watson, her Nana and Tata have always been there for her. She remembers growing up and always spending time with her family, until the day she left for college.
"Every day I would go see my Nana and Tata. There's not a day that goes by where I don't talk to my family," said Watson, who remembers not having a time where she wasn't surrounded by family.
"Growing up it was always loud and crazy. There were always lots of people going in and out of the house. Lots of hugs and kisses were being shared in the hour it would take to say hi and goodbye to everyone. My Nana would always be playing Spanish music around the house when she cooked and cleaned around the house," Watson said.
Acuña loves the opportunity to share her culture with her second family, the softball team. 
"We have a pretty diverse team and it's really cool how we get to interact and show them a part of our culture. It's like a big family and we all get along, but it's really cool we get to interact with other cultures and show them a part of our culture," says Acuña, who enjoys cooking and playing music for her teammates. 
"When my friends come over to my apartment, I'll make them tacos and they'll be like, 'Oh my gosh Yanni, these are so good!' When we're in the weight room we play Latin music because it pumps us up and they love to dance to the music."
Overall, the six Hispanic student-athletes embody what it means to be Hispanic. They value the quality time they have with their second family on the softball team and fight to honor the family members that came before them.
"Being Hispanic on a softball team here at ASU, we are representing our country and our family. It's really cool to represent our ethnicity and who we are as people," Acuña said.

Hispanic Heritage has grown close to the program. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Sun Devil Softball alumnae Dallas Escobedo, Chelsea Gonzales, and Sashel Palacios represented Team Mexico -- a country that qualified for its first-ever softball appearance at the games.