More Than An Athlete: Coach Leo Zamarripa, all in for a dream

More Than an Athlete

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Coach Leo Zamarripa has never had a problem putting all his chips on the table.

As a young athlete growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, Coach Zamarripa dreamed of becoming a coach, impacting the future through the games he loved.

At just 24-years-old, Coach Zamarripa made that dream a reality, becoming the head coach of the Saint Joseph Academy Baseball team.

“I’ve been blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had coaching,” Zamarripa said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”

His dream continued from the baseball diamond to the football field, where he spent time at Faulk Middle School before joining the coaching staff at Brownsville Porter High School.

Then, COVID-19 happened …

Locked in his home, Coach Zamarripa turned to another passion, Poker. He studied for hours and perfected his craft, all while competing in online tournaments. He developed a new dream of being a poker champion but sought the blessing of his wife, his family, and his players before committing to this new adventure.

“They said go chase your dream coach and be a poker champion,” Zamarripa said. “That was probably the best thing, the best feeling I’ve ever [gotten] and something I carry with me every time I’m dealt cards or planning a trip.”

The dream has now begun.

Now, the former coach enjoyed his first trip as a professional poker player, when he and a group of fellow RGV poker players journeyed to Houston for a couple of weeks of tournament play. He worked his way into a couple of final tables, and his teammate won a grand prize. The group now eyes a quick trip to Austin before an extended trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker at the end of September.

Despite a new means, the former coach still dreams of impacting the future of RGV athletics.

Zamarripa is starting a charity called “All in for Athletics,” which will provide equipment, funds, and mentorship to young RGV athletes. Five percent of his winnings will go directly toward his new charity as his career progresses.

“You know I’ve seen kids using their older brothers’ cleats cause they can’t afford their own,” Zamarripa said.

From the field to the felt, coach is ‘All In’ on creating a positive impact for the future.

*You can follow Coach Zamarripa’s journey via all forms of social media (Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.).*

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