By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Rancho Bernardo High Bronco uniforms and gear are becoming an increasingly familiar sight on sports fields in Tijuana.
That is because RB High’s assistant principal, Martin Casas, began a sports equipment donation program soon after joining the school’s administration last fall.
Casas said three years ago, when coaching at his alma mater of Eastlake High School, he found a lot of old sports equipment and uniforms in storage.
“I noticed we were hoarding uniforms ... so I asked the athletic director if we could donate the full sets of uniforms to schools in Tijuana,” he said.
Casas said he was well-familiar with the need for sports equipment at many of Tijuana’s underprivileged public schools because up to age 12 he went to school there and his mother-in-law, Rosy Ramirez, is the head of physical education there.
“She knows the teams that need what (items),” he said, adding, “I know the struggle they have.”
He said the children play sports without proper equipment and even the state champion soccer team is among those whose members have never worn uniforms. According to Casas, one complete soccer uniform by Adidas can cost $100 per player.
Casas said in addition to uniforms and equipment he got both high schools to donate, his wife, Terla Casas, has collected a lot of gymnastics equipment and leotards over the past three years. She is a former competitive gymnast who knows many coaches.
When he approached the RB High athletic department for donations of no-longer-used items soon after joining the staff, Casas said the response was very positive and overwhelming. When students learned of the endeavor, some started asking him if they could also donate items such as their old cleats.
“It’s awesome to see (students in Tijuana) with Bronco ball bags,” he said. “The kids and teachers were in tears (when receiving them).”
He added the students do not mind that another school’s mascot is on their uniforms and equipment since they have never had such items before.
According to a thank-you letter sent by Professor Adela Sabin Jarquindez of Profesor Salvador Varela Resendiz Elementary School in Tijuana, by donating complete sets of uniforms, the project is supporting a community with few resources and the children can practice soccer, their favorite sport.