New Sea King Off To Cuba To Play Softball
• Between PVIS and PV High Rachel Allen heads to Cuba to play softball.Incoming Palos Verdes High School freshman Rachel Allen has been chosen to be a part of history this summer.
As one of 10 selected girls from across the nation, she will be representing not only the Firecrackers softball organization, but the United States, during the Cuban Softball Multi-Cultural and Exhibition Tournament in Havana, Cuba, which takes place from July 23 to July 28.
This is the first time that a travel softball team from the United States will compete in Cuba.
Allen began to play softball at the age of five in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Girl’s Softball League. For the past five years, she has been involved as a travel softball player.
As a member of the Firecrackers TJ Houshmandzadeh, a team that has been based in Los Alamitos for the past year, Allen plays multiple positions, including catcher, first base and third base.
She has been committed to the sport, practicing almost every day, whether it’s a team practice or hitting off a tee in her front yard.
During Allen’s time with the Firecrackers, the team has not only played teams from all over California, but clubs from Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.
The seasons dictate the reason for her travels. During the fall, the team travels for showcases, and during the spring and the summer, they travel to tournaments in different states, such as Florida and Colorado. The trip to Cuba will be the first time she has left the country to play softball.
The idea of playing in Cuba first came from the Firecracker organization president, Tony Rico, and team coach, Manny Travieso, whose family is of Cuban descent.
After seeing a Major League Baseball exhibition game played in Cuba, Travieso had the idea of having a softball team travel to Cuba. He found a travel agent who spoke to Cuba Deportes on his behalf.
They highlighted what unique experience the game in Cuba would be for the athletes. After many months, Cuba Deportes invited the team to participate in a tournament.
Firecracker players from all over the country were given the opportunity to try out for the team. Those who applied were chosen based on softball skill, GPA, and an essay on the topic, “What this landmark opportunity would mean to you.”
The Firecrackers US Cuba travel team consists of 16U-18U players. Six girls are from California, and four are from Iowa, Arizona, Texas and Florida.
Other than the Firecrackers, all other teams competing in the tournament will be from Cuban provinces as well as the Cuban National team. The Cuban National team could be the same team that plays in the 2020 Olympics.
Allen believes she is going to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Not only is she excited to play softball in a foreign country, she is eager for a new cultural experience.
“I’m looking forward to getting my eyes opened to a new culture and getting to use softball to engage with the Cuban players in hope of being part of opening new opportunity for these athletes and those that are less fortunate,” she said.
“I am beyond excited to be given the opportunity to be an ambassador of the sport, the U.S., and to be representing the Firecrackers organization on this mission,” Allen said.