Inner city league bringing families together on the diamond, at home
Criselda Garcia sat on the bleachers during the RBI 12U Bears’ first practice of the season and shared how her 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, first got involved with RBI Austin, a non-profit that uses baseball, softball, and mentoring to engage and develop inner-city Austin youth.
“RBI Austin Softball?! We didn’t even know there was an opportunity for Sophia to play softball through RBI,” said Garcia.
The Garcia family is no stranger to RBI Austin. Rudy Jr., their 18-year-old son, has been deeply involved in the organization for more than five years. Rudy played on RBI’s summer league and Regional tournament teams, and participated in RBI’s Player Development Program.
In 2014, Rudy was part of the first RBI Austin Regional team to advance to the RBI World Series, where they competed against teams from the Dominican Republic, Miami, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. As part of this team, Rudy got to meet MLB Hall of Famers and the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig.
So, when the Garcias heard that RBI Austin has a softball league for girls, they jumped at the opportunity for Sophia to join this unique program: a program that values building sports skills and also values developing players off the field.
“It’s much more than simply a sports league. Rudy comes home on Wednesday nights from the Player Development Program and fills me in on all the things they’ve talked about,” said Garcia. “They really care about developing young men and women. Daniel Reyna [RBI Director of Programs] has been the same since day one. He calls and checks in on Rudy. He calls and checks in on me. We didn’t ask him to mentor these boys. He does it on his own.”
At the ballpark most nights of the week, this sport has knitted the Garcia family together with a common passion. Rudy and Sophia both play catcher and both wear #14. Criselda and her husband, Rudy Sr., attend almost every practice, game, and tournament. Teammates have become family, and the Garcias have become a stronger team.
RBI Austin exists to engage and develop inner-city Austin youth athletically, academically, and spiritually, empowering them to lead the transformation of their communities.
Article by RBI Austin, photos by SportsXpress