Olympian Crystl Bustos Delivers More Than Hitting Tips at Urban Initiative Clinics
The Little League Urban Initiative recently held hitting clinics in Tampa, Fla., and Houston, Texas, in which Olympic softball player Crystl Bustos served as the instructor. While the participants received instruction on the basics of hitting from one of the best hitters in the history of the sport, they also took away a message they can use as they move through the early years of their lives.
“The hitting instruction Crystl communicated will make each of the participants better players, but her message to the children about overcoming obstacles and sticking with your goals will probably have a longer-lasting influence than anything she did,” Maggie Puentes, President of the West Tampa Little League, the host of the clinic in Florida, said. “You could see in the eyes of the players her message to pursue your dreams was hitting home.”
The clinic in Florida was attended by 64 girls, and additional local league coaches, representing four different Urban Initiative leagues in the area.
The Little League Urban Initiative was established in 1999 to bring the benefits of baseball and softball to boys and girls in urban neighborhoods, giving them a chance to participate in organized sports activities under the guidance of community volunteers and mentors.
Ms. Bustos, a Canyon Country, Calif. native, first became a friend of the Urban Initiative program last summer when she attended the Urban Initiative Northern California Jamboree. The three-time Olympian spoke with the players and coaches at a luncheon that was part of the Jamboree.
Ms. Bustos, who helped U.S. Olympic softball teams in 2000 and 2004 earn the Gold Medal, wanted to expand her involvement with the Urban Initiative program agreeing to do the hitting clinics this year.
“The young players just starting out are the future of softball,” Ms. Bustos said. “It will be the 10- and 12-year-olds today who will represent our country in future international tournaments.
“I would like to see more instructors like myself take a more active role in the Little League program training the players who are willing to learn,” Ms. Bustos said. “We need to help them realize the dream we all were lucky enough to live.”
As a player who came through the Little League youth softball system in her hometown, Ms. Bustos is continually giving back as a much sought-after clinician and speaker across the country as a part of her GotBustos?LLC Sports Training. She also sponsors several youth softball teams in California and Ohio, helping those players improve their game.
The reaction at the clinic hosted by Northside National Little League in Houston was much the same.
“I believe the girls are more excited and motivated to be a member of the softball program after their visit with Crystl,” Juan Arrendondo, President of Dixie Little League in Houston, said. “They are taking the newly learned skills and applying them to their game. The Crystl Bustos clinic also helped our league coaches with their approach when teaching the girls. Overall, the event was a win-win for everyone.”
Sabrina Salas, a 14-year-old player in the Northside league and a freshman player at Waltrip High School said, “I had a great time at the event. We learned the correct way to throw the softball, how to use your legs to gain strength in your swing, and how to prepare yourself defensively as the game progresses.”
Frank Velasquez, who is President of the Council of Houston Inner-city Little Leagues, had 21 other volunteers, who helped make the clinic a success for the 64 participants.
“We were a little concerned having never hosted a specialty clinic before,” Mr. Velasquez, the 2009 recipient of the Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year award, said. “But the event was a huge success in every way, and we look forward to future skills development clinics we can host to help the players in our area.”
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Crystl Bustos provides instruction to some of the campers at the Little League Urban Initiative Hitting Clinic in Houston, Texas.
The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating with more than 220 leagues in nearly 90 cities in the United States. The Urban Initiative also has participated in more than 30 field renovation/development projects, including its most recent project in Richmond, Va. The Urban Initiative has stimulated the participation of 4,000 teams and approximately 52,000 players since its inception.
For more information on Little League’s Urban Initiative, contact Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, at: dervin@LittleLeague.org; or (570) 326-1921. More information on the Little League Urban Initiative is also available on the Little League web site, at: www.LittleLeague.org; or on Facebook, at: www.facebook.com/LittleLeagueUrbanInitiative.