Human trafficking survivor becomes record-breaking triathlete
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Norma Bastidas running outdoors with a backpack on

By and Jose Mayorquin ACB News

Truth can be stranger than fiction. It would be difficult for most Hollywood screenwriters to imagine Norma Bastida’s real-life story of survival.

“Growing up, it was a very difficult environment because of the cartels and surviving sexual violence,” said Bastidas, an immigrant from Mazatlan in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. “Unfortunately, it’s a reality for a lot of young people. I was trying to escape that when I was offered a job in Japan. It turned out to be not a real job offer, and I ended up being trafficked into a bar and became an escort.”

Eventually, Bastidas was able to flee her captors. After living in Canada for a number of years, she settled in Los Angeles. Attempts to cope with her dark past led to the life-altering discovery of a hidden talent and calling.

“Running was a way for me to confront all those demons I had. Within six months, I ran my first half marathon because my best friend was a runner and I passed her. And that’s when I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to find my limits,'” said Bastidas.

She went on to run her first full marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon. She then took on ultrarunning and people took notice. Despite gaining international attention for her world record-setting runs, Bastidas wasn’t yet ready to reveal her full story. But after a negative encounter with a potential sponsor, she was emboldened to let her truth be known.

“They didn’t want to work with human trafficking survivors, because they didn’t want to work with ‘those’ women. And in one meeting, I was like ‘I am in one of those women.’ That was the first time I publicly ever said that,” said Bastidas.

Now determined to be a voice for human trafficking survivors she decided to take on her biggest challenge yet — the Guinness record for the world’s longest triathlon, a record held by a man. Norma’s pursuit of this incredible feat is chronicled in the 2017 documentary “Be Relentless” produced by iEmpathize.

“I wanted to go from Cancun to Washington D.C. to follow a human trafficking route to connect both countries. It was 3% swimming, 78% cycling and 20% running,” she said. “It was 95 miles swimming and I didn’t know how to swim. But I was determined.”

Read the full article on ABC 7 News

Five Latinas dominating sports
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Amanda Nunes is currently the best female fighter in the world for the sports. Photo: UFC

By Erika Ardila, Aldia News

Sports in all its expressions is an activity with deep ties to passion that gathers people around the same team and is also the dream of thousands of women around the world.

Going to a national championship, the Olympic Games or any professional competition becomes the goal of Latinas who come to the United States to compete.

Here are five great Latina athletes who are making history in the country doing just that:

Amanda Nunes
UFC
Nunes is a Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the bantamweight and featherweight categories of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where she is the current champion of both divisions.

She is the first woman in UFC history to be champion of two different categories simultaneously. She is currently ranked number one in the UFC’s official rankings of the top pound-for-pound female fighters. Nunes has an overall record of 19-4.

Monica Puig
Tennis
Puig is a Puerto Rican tennis player, champion at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games in the women’s singles competition.

She is Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medalist and was also a gold medalist at the Central American Games in Mayagüez 2010, Veracruz 2014 and Barranquilla 2018, and a silver medalist at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara 2011.

Puig is currently ranked No. 44 in the World Association of Women’s Tennis (WAT).

Diana Taurasi
Basketball
This American basketball player is of Argentinean descent and plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian League.

Given her great track record, she is usually recognized as one of the best basketball players in history. In June 2017, she became the top scorer in WNBA history surpassing Tina Thompson.

In addition to being a professional athlete, in 2021, she participated in the movie Space Jam 2, voicing the character of ‘White Mamba.’

Laurie Hernandez
Gymnastics
Laurie is of Puerto Rican descent and was a 2016 Olympic champion and runner-up in the team all-around and balance beam gymnastics competitions.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Hernandez was revealed as one of the celebrities who would participate in the 23rd season of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy, with whom she won the competition. At 16 years old, Hernandez is the show’s youngest winner.

Click here to read the full article on Al Dia Social.

Kassandra Garcia, the Latina fighting for representation in the NFL
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Kassandra Garcia, football management analyst for the Los Angeles Rams. Photo: LinkedIN

By Natalia Puertas Cavero, Aldia News

Kassandra Garcia is a first-generation Mexican-American who is making history in a male-dominated world. At just 27 years old, Garcia is the highest-ranking Latina in the NFL as a football management analyst for the Los Angeles Rams. She joins Natalia Dorantes, who was named the NFL’s first female chief of staff earlier this year.

The world of sports, even at the administrative level, is predominantly male. However, some Latinas, like Kassandra Garcia have arrived to diversify the industry.

Garcia’s rise began at the University of Arizona, where she pursued her degree in business administration and was a recruiting intern for the Wildcats. Her skills helped her become an analyst, and as she explained, the influence her family and culture played an important role in her career.

García atributes her accomplishments to her grandmother and mother, as they are the ones who gave her the strength to pursue her dreams. Garcia’s grandparents were second-generation Mexican-Americans, leaving Mexico with three children and no English.

Despite everything going against them, and with a lot of hard work, they managed to build thriving Mexican restaurants in Tuscon, Arizona. It was this example that inspired Garcia to build her own career.

She admits that becoming the highest-ranking Latina in the NFL didn’t happen by accident. Garcia has always been very rebellious and it has helped her pursue goals she thought impossible.

“I’m very stubborn. When someone tells me I can’t do something, it’s game over. The fire inside me burns to prove them wrong. I don’t know if that’s being stubborn, narcissism, ego — and I think about this all the time – but it’s gotten me this far,” García told USA Today Sports.

According to the NFL’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion report, as of February 2021, there have only been four Latino (male) coaches. In addition, it noted that only 2.7% of all team vice presidents were women of color.

On the other hand, women in administrative positions in sports declined from 35.9% in 2019 to 32.3% in 2020, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) of the DeVos Sports Management Program at UCF. Of those, only 7% of women in all professional management positions were non-white women.

It is inspiring and hopeful to see that women like Garcia are blazing a trail for other Latinas who dream of having a career on the business side of professional sports.

Click here to read the full article Aldia News.

Announcing our newest show, Locker Room Talk, an all-Latina look at women in sports
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We're excited to announce the launch of our new weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports, Locker Room Talk.

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new weekly show highlighting the achievements of women and Latinas in sports, Locker Room Talk.

Hosted by Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes, two Latinas with more than 20 years of sports industry reporting experience, Locker Room Talk celebrates women in all aspects of the sports world by recognizing their contributions and the barriers they have overcome in their journeys. The show debuts this Wednesday, August 4, with new episodes rolling out weekly on YouTube and Facebook along with additional content across all La Vida Baseball social channels.

“Women have always been at the forefront of challenging cultural norms,” says Jesse Menendez, managing director of La Vida Baseball. “This show was created as a platform for the incredible community of trailblazers who continue to redefine our industry. Julie Alexandria and Jennifer Mercedes are leading important conversations with industry leaders. With Locker Room Talk, Julie and Jennifer have created a space where women can share their stories, experiences and of course their triumphs. Everyone needs to watch this show.”

Guests currently lined up for Locker Room Talk include NY Yankees hitting coach Rachel Balkovec, NFL Network’s MJ Acosta-Ruiz, Chief Business Officer at A-Rod Corp. Kelly Laferriere , MLB agent Lonnie Murray, diplomat and non-profit We Are All Human CEO Claudia Romo Edelman, MLB writer Shakeia Taylor, Turner Sports’ Lisa Byington (first woman to call NCAA men’s March Madness game), MLB Network’s Melanie Newman, ESPN’s Sarah Spain, Drone Racing League president Rachel Jacobson and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mariana Patraca.

In addition to Locker Room Talk, LaVida Baseball has a wide range of social media streaming series, highlighted by Being Guillén, a hilarious weekly show and podcast, hosted by former World Series Champion manager, Ozzie Guillén and two of his sons, Ozzie Guillén Jr. and Oney Guillén; and Polvora, Voz & Diamante, a high energy Spanish language show hosted by a Mexican League MVP, the Cardinals’ Spanish language broadcaster and a Mexican rock star.

Click here to read the full article on La Vida Baseball.

Gina Rodriguez Sets Film Directorial Debut With Sports Drama Inspired by Boxer Ryan Garcia
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Gina Rodriguez is teaming up with professional boxer Ryan Garcia to develop a sports drama about the athlete’s experiences as a Mexican American lightweight champion.

By Rebecca Rubin, Variety

Gina Rodriguez is teaming up with professional boxer Ryan Garcia to develop a sports drama about the athlete’s experiences as a Mexican American lightweight champion. Rodriguez, best known for The CW’s take on a telenovela “Jane the Virgin,” is directing, co-starring and producing the film. She’s previously helmed episodes of “Jane the Virgin,” but the upcoming, still-untitled movie marks her feature filmmaking debut.

Rodriguez will also co-write the screenplay with actor and playwright Bernardo Cubria (“The Giant Void in My Soul”). Alongside Rodriguez, the 22-year-old Garcia is starring in the film as a fictional version of himself. Due to Garcia’s fighting schedule, the movie won’t begin shooting until summer of 2022.

Inspired by movies like “Rocky” and “Creed,” the sports drama mirrors Garcia’s own journey and follows a Mexican American boxer named Alex Guerrero (Garcia) whose struggles with mental health rival his toughest bouts in the ring. After a chance encounter with a world champion propels him into the spotlight, he must prove to himself and the world that he has what it takes to come out on top.

“I grew up in a boxing family and loved watching sports dramas with my dad,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “The philosophies of fighting — working hard, staying focused, being honest, fighting fair but to win — have stayed with me.”

Rodriguez called Garcia “not only an outstanding athlete and champion, but a true advocate of normalizing and furthering conversations on mental health.” She adds, “His bravery has inspired me, and I am honored to have his trust to direct this film and guide his first foray into the arts.”

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

Washington Football Team hires NFL’s first Latina chief of staff
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Natalia Dorantes is the latest in a series of momentous hires in Washington.

 Darren Haynes

The Washington Football Team is continuing its push for diversity and inclusion in all branches of the team, under the leadership of head coach Ron Rivera. The team announced Wednesday that it hired Natalia Dorantes as its new coordinator of football operations, making her the NFL’s first Latina chief of staff.

Dorantes will work directly with Coach Ron Rivera, as well as work with all of the organization’s department heads to manage internal requests for Rivera. The 26-year-old spoke openly Wednesday about her appreciation for Rivera paving the way for historic hires in Washington.

PHOTO: FORBES

“I’m a very proud Latina,” Dorantes said in a virtual interview Wednesday. “I was like, ‘As another Hispanic, I think it’s great that you’re in football because there’s not many of us.’ So thank you for that. It shows a lot that you’re just here supporting us.”

Coach Rivera himself is no stranger to what being “the first” is like in the NFL. In 1984, Rivera became the first person of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent to be drafted in the league when the Chicago Bears picked him up in the second round. Now, he’s only the third Latino head coach in the NFL, and the first Latino head coach for Washington

Dorantes first met coach Rivera when she virtually attended the fifth annual NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum in February. The position itself is a bit of a first for both Rivera and WFT as an organization, as the coach said his battle with cancer last year taught him he needed to be able to delegate.

“This is kind of new ground for us because I’ve never had a chief of staff,” Rivera said. “So I needed a person that’s gonna be able to interact with coaches, with coordinators and may have to say, quite honestly, ‘No, I don’t think Coach wants that. Because the one thing I want her to understand is that she’s going to have my voice, and I trust her.”

Dorantes is the most recent name in a string of historic hires for Washington.

 

Decrying Racism, Fans Pushed For Years To Get Latino NFL Pioneer Tom Flores In Hall Of Fame
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tom flores wearing a tuxedo

For years, Tom Flores — the first Latino pro football quarterback and head coach — doubted he would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But his fans were sure he’d earned the honor and helped get him there.

Flores, 83, who is Mexican American, was elected to the Hall of Fame this weekend, a recognition that many fans had been saying he was due years ago.

“Congratulations to Sanger Alumni Tom Flores. It’s about darn time,” said a comment on a Twitter account dedicated to the Sanger Union High School Apaches in California. Flores attended the high school, where the football stadium is named after him.

Flores was the first Latino starting quarterback in pro football when he played for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League in 1960. He went to the fourth Super Bowl in 1970 as backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.

He was an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders when they won Super Bowl 11 after the 1976 season, and he was the head coach when the Raiders won Super Bowl 15 after the 1980 season and when the Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl 18 after the 1983 season. All as a coach and a player were firsts for a Latino.

He and Mike Ditka are the only men to have won Super Bowls as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach.

Even so, Flores often wasn’t nominated for the Hall of Fame, or he got only as far as semifinalist, a fact not lost on him; Flores mentioned his disappointment at being passed over in interviews in recent years.

Flores’ absence from the hall was seen as a major omission by his fans, Latinos and other sports figures, given his barrier breaking in football. Some publicly called it out as “racism.”

Continue to the original article at NBC News.
LULAC Remembers Diego Maradona, Latino Soccer Star
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Diego Maradona on the soccer playing field kicking the ball with other players

Nation’s Leading Latino Civil Rights Organization Says the Argentinian D10S Inspired Millions Worldwide

Washington, D.C. – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened that one of sport’s greatest stars has died following brain surgery a week ago. Diego Maradona will be remembered for transfixing soccer enthusiasts with his superhuman talent and athletic feats. LULAC has always encouraged young Latinos, men and women alike, to emulate positive aspects in the lives of their sports heroes who inspire them to achieve more in their own future. Maradona, the mere name of this player, ignited that spirit in young people and the young at heart around the world.

At this time when nations everywhere are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, may we pause and remember the heart with which Maradona played, often against seemingly insurmountable opponents. One of the highlights for which he will be forever celebrated was the match in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup against England in which the ball ricocheted off his raised fist into the head of a player from the opposing team and flew into the net to score the decisive goal. He would later describe the incident as, “The Hand of God”. His performances on the field is worthy of a final ovation. May we raise our voices today and scream in unison GOL in his honor one final time. Que descanse en paz, el gran Pibe de Oro.”

About LULAC
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.

Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez on being a Latina trailblazer — and healing from abuse
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Laurie Hernandez doing gymnastics

Gymnast Laurie Hernandez’s living room is decorated with many photographs. But two are the most special—one shows her parents praying before her performance at the 2016 Olympics and the other is of them hugging her afterwards.

“I love those photos,” Hernandez told NBC News. “Going to the Olympics, competing and then looking into the crowd and seeing my parents, that was one of the sweetest things I could possibly ever have witnessed…It’s just a big reminder as to how much support my parents have given me in all of this.”

Her Puerto Rican parents, Wanda and Anthony Hernandez, were watching their then-teenage daughter make history as the first Latina gymnast to represent the United States at the Olympics since 2004 — while also bringing home some medals. Hernandez won silver on the balance beam and gold on the team event alongside fellow USA gymnasts, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Madison Kocian.

“There was so much representation, from Black women to white women, a Hispanic girl, so I think that was a really important thing for just the globe to see,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said her fans will learn more about how she trains during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as “how I was raised and who my parents are” in the new Peacock Original documentary series “True Colors,” starring her and other Hispanic trailblazers, such as the actor Mario Lopez, the former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

“You’ll be able to get a really good feel as to why I am the way I am and why my siblings are the way we are,” Hernandez, who’s currently training for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, said. “It’s been, definitely, a crazy ride. I’m only 20 and I feel like I’ve lived three lives already.”

Hernandez remembers being very passionate about the sport since a very young age. When she was still just a little girl training in New Jersey, she looked at her parents and said: “Hey, like I want to go to the Olympics. … I have all these crazy dreams.”

“They could have very easily been like, ‘You’re a child. You came out of the womb nine years ago, maybe let’s try something else.’ But they didn’t. Instead, they hit me with the ‘well, if this is what you want, then how can we help you?'” Hernandez recalled.

At the 2016 Olympics, her parents were praying “that I don’t wipe out,” while competing, she said.

“I didn’t realize it until after Rio. We had all sat down away from cameras and talked about it. And they were like, we really questioned if we were being good parents by letting you stay in it because you’re getting hurt over and over again, which is part of the sport,” Hernandez said. “But after getting surgery in 2014, they saw how determined I was and they were like, ‘OK, we can’t pull that away from her.'”

Continue to Today.com to read the full article. 

Jose Altuve’s Heroics Seal Astros ALCS Win, Set Up Epic World Series vs. Nats
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Jose Altuve's teammates hold him up high as they celebrate the Astro's victory

HOUSTON — In the eye of the swirling storm around them, there was calm. There always is. Two outs from punching their World Series ticket, the Houston Astros had just taken a punch. To lesser teams, it might have been a knockout blow.

DJ LeMahieu had just drilled a two-run homer, the desperate New York Yankees saw a crack of light, and now they were pushing to muscle their way in.

Tied game, bottom of the ninth, two out, and New York closer Aroldis Chapman breathing dragon fire and spitting 100 mph sliders. But he had made a mistake: He had lost George Springer. He had jumped ahead in the count with a strike-one slider, but then he couldn’t locate the plate. He had delivered four consecutive balls.

In the Houston dugout, two outfielders sat together, Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley. It was Brantley who had helped position the Astros for this moment two innings earlier, with a full-on diving catch in left field before scrambling to his feet and throwing a one-hop pea to double off Aaron Judge at first base and end the seventh with a fabulously artful and incredibly rare 7-3 double play.

Now the sea of orange was deafening in Minute Maid Park and Jose Altuve was at the plate and Reddick watched Chapman deliver ball one, and then ball two. It was then, 2 and 0 count, Chapman having thrown six consecutive balls, that Reddick calmly leaned over and declared to Brantley, “Josie’s going to win this game right here for us.”

On the mound, Chapman threw his first strike in seven offerings, a slider that sailed by Altuve for a called strike.

And then he threw another, this one 83 mph and high in the zone, and in a flash, Altuve unleashed a quick, violent swing that sent a laser into the night.

The ball’s landing was the anticlimactic part. By then, everyone knew this one was over and the Astros had slayed the Yankees. Again, for the second time in three seasons in this ballpark, this time 6-4 in a Game 6 that started slowly and then veered toward classic.

“He’s one of the best,” Springer was saying moments later, soaked with champagne, standing on the field amid family and the warm embrace of a city that cannot get enough of these Astros. “I know right there I have to do anything I can to get to first base, and I was able to.

“He can do special things. There’s nothing he can’t do. Incredible moment. Incredible swing. Unbelievable.”

Continue on to Apple News to read the complete article.

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