BROWNSVILLE (ValleyCentral) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Department of Intercollegiate Athletics welcomed over 125 campers and family members on Thursday as part of an initiative that was announced last month.
The initiative kicked off at the Brownsville Sports Park, the first event in Brownsville.
Calling for more engagement in the lower Rio Grande Valley, the initiative is something that had been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is certainly long overdue,” said UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics, Chasse Conque. “It’s certainly something we wanted to do last summer but we had to delay because of the pandemic. It’s so great to see so many young people out here. Credit to the parents for joining us and bringing their youngsters out. It’s awesome to see our student-athletes and coaches have fun here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.”
For the UTRGV Women’s Soccer Team, it’s more than just giving back to the community. In this case for a couple of the Vaqueros, Brownsville is their hometown, and they are happy to be able to connect with their community.
Karime Benavides, Marcy Garza, and Kryssie Rivera all grew up in Brownsville. Benavides went to Brownsville Veterans Memorial, Garza and Rivera attended Pace High School. For the trio, events like the one at Brownsville Sports Complex bring back memories from when they were younger.
“Honestly, it brings back a lot of memories,” said Rivera. “I am really excited to teach these young girls stuff that I wanted to be taught when I was their age. It feels really great and I am super excited for this opportunity.”
The youth clinic allowed the Vaqueros to interact with the youth of the community. It was important for the likes of Benavides to be able to set a good example for kids that are in a position she was in at one point.
“We want to show them that we are here for them,” said Benavides. “We are trying to give them a role model and someone to look up to. Any time we are showing them an example, we try and be enthusiastic and get them engaged so we can give them someone to look up to. Like our coach said, they may want to be us one day and we are here to show them it’s possible.”
Garza shared the same sentiment as Benavides about setting a good example for the youth of the Rio Grande Valley. She too once had dreams of making it to the collegiate level and she knows it is important to pass along what she has learned on her journey.
“I want to show them that their dreams are reachable if they really want them,” said Garza. “I know at their age this is exactly what I wanted to do. I am here doing it and I know they can too. They just need to work hard and keep going.”
This is just the first opportunity for UTRGV Athletics to make their presence felt in the lower Rio Grande Valley with more planned for in the near future.
“This is just a start,” Conque said. “That’s what I was telling the parents earlier. We will be back here for men’s soccer next weekend. Obviously, all our sports will participate in the lower Valley over the next six to eight months. We are excited to be here, and we hope the city of Brownsville and Cameron County are excited to have us.”