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VIDEO: Long Beach Softball Giving Back

Sports are about more than the final score, and both Long Beach State and Long Beach City College softball programs have proved that this season by getting involved in charitable events.

LBCC worked with Team IMPACT to host a special Draft Day celebration in February for 11-year-old Elyse Pineda, who was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Disorder in 2006. The Vikings had Elyse sign a letter of intent to be part of the team during a big press conference event.

“This generation is so entitled with all of the free things in their lives,” LBCC softball coach Megan Martinez. “This was a great opportunity to show what really matters in life.”

Martinez offered free pizza to the other teams on campus to come see Elyse’s event, and she was surprised when all of the other teams chipped in food, drinks and support. The event was supposed to be 20 minutes, and it ended up being two hours because of how many people showed up for support.

“It was incredible to see the whole Vikings family out there like that,” Martinez said.

LBCC sophomore and Wilson High alum Julia Juarez is the team advocate for IMPACT and the Vikings.

“Elyse is a strong young lady who is always cheering us one and it makes me so happy to see her in the dugout with us,” Juarez said. “She’s our sister, and we’re making a lot of memories.”

Elyse and her family have stayed with LBCC softball since the event. They drive their trailer all over California to follow the Vikings, and they’ll even set up a picnic to eat together with the team on the road.

“I get emotional talking about it,” Martinez said. “She had emergency surgery on Easter Sunday, and she was still out at the field for our game on Tuesday. She’s incredible, and she brings so much light and love.”

LBCC – Spotlight on LBCC – Elyse Pineda

Uploaded by LongBeachCityCollege on 2018-03-29.

Long Beach State softball has worked with the organization Friends Of Jaclyn for years, and has a special friend in Jenna Jackson from Las Vegas. Jenna, 16, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2009, and after surgery and radiation treatments, she’s been cancer free for eight years.

LBSU associate head coach Panita Thanatharn met Jenna while she was coaching at UNLV, and she introduced the 49ers to Jenna when they went to a tournament in Las Vegas seven years ago.

“Jenna came in our dugout and she’s been part of our team ever since,” LBSU coach Kim Sowder said. “She inspires everyone and loves to give us pep talks. It’s a great reminder to have a great attitude no matter what.”

LBSU held its first official Jenna Day last weekend, and Jenna was on hand to support the 49ers and have fun on the field.

LBSU Softball on Twitter

We love you Jenna. ❤️ #JennaDay #NeverSayNever

Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, MA that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 35,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child’s support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can’t learn in a classroom.

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers, and to raise awareness though the Adopt-A-Child, Safe on the Sidelines and Guardian Angel Programs.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.