Meet Itzel Velarde and her family. They have been living and breathing Junior Giants this past summer in Santa Rosa, with Itzel and her two siblings participating in the program, and both mom and dad volunteering as team parents and coaches.
The Junior Giants program uses baseball and softball as a forum to encourage youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives. The program teaches children ages 5-13 the fundamentals of baseball and softball but places a higher emphasis on building character than on wins and losses.
Itzel has proven and shown what this program can do for local youth and has received the Harmon and Sue Burns Scholarship from the Giants Community Fund! To be eligible, she completed an application that included writing four short essays and was selected as only one of ten recipients from across all 87 Junior Giants leagues throughout California, Oregon, and Nevada. It’s clear that Itzel understands the importance this opportunity presents her.
“Getting this scholarship is my biggest accomplishment at my age and gives me the opportunity of having a carrier that will open many doors to a successful path,” said Itzel. “I will not let this opportunity go to waste, and I would like to encourage parents and kids alike to experience the Junior Giants program.”
Not only does Itzel’s experience show the positive impact this program has on local youth, but it resonates with adults as well. Norma Velarde, Itzel’s mom, had nothing but praise for the program and what it offers.
“Junior Giants is a great program because it encourages good morals and exposes our kids at a very young age to baseball, giving them mental structure and a goal to participate in many other sports. Junior Giants also encourages us parents to get involved alongside our children -” Norma explained. “We started with the Junior Giants since 2017 and will come back every year for as long as the program allows us, with our youngest child being seven years old at this time. Go Junior Giants!”
As part of the scholarship, Itzel will receive a personalized jersey, San Francisco Giants tickets and the opportunity to participate in special events throughout her high school career, college preparation resources and support, and a $10,000 college scholarship. This opportunity will help Itzel thrive throughout her high school and college careers, all made possible by the Junior Giants Program.
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