Young enough to grow, old enough to know

SOFTBALL: Star center fielder has been holding down the fort for a long time; she’s eager to see beyond the wall.

By Jorge Belon, Managing Editor 

Sabrina_Juarez_1_WEBDavid Dinwiddie / Photographer

Sabrina Gloria Aracely Juarez has a youthful smile and an old soul. The Lady Monarchs’ energetic center fielder sees through eyes unusually mature for her 19 years, the influence of her grandmother. Her responsibilities keep her anchored for now, but she hopes to eventually see much more than the world she already knows.

Juarez walks in wearing big headphones (Earth, Wind and Fire), sporting nostril piercings and mighty dimples. The former Francis Polytechnic Senior High student is the oldest of five siblings. She has three brothers and a sister; as the oldest, she attempts to do everything the right way. Every step she takes, she senses casts four extra shadows.

“It is hard being the oldest,” said Juarez in her characteristically loud voice. The confident softball star talks as much with her hands as her words. “You are the [test case] for your parents and everyone looks up to you. There is no room for error since everyone is looking at you. I have to keep the peace and keep the order among my siblings.”

With her parents separated and a household with multiple generations under one roof, Juarez was conditioned from an early age to a leadership role. Her grandmother, Gloria León, helped Juarez learn how to deal with so full a plate.

“My grandmother is my hero. She is my everything. I would go to her for everything. I always spent every day with her,” Juarez said. “She would teach me to be gentle and to see the beauty in everything, to always see the positive in things no matter what.”

But at only 10 years old, the Burbank native had to learn quickly how to put those lessons into practice when her beloved grandmother died. For a while, Juarez felt numb, but her grandmother’s philosophy pulled her through.

“I will never forget the day she died. I remember feeling very lost for a while, but her words got me through it.”

In middle school, she found a channel that helped her cope – sports. Since her parents picked her up late, she would play every sport possible in after-school programs. Having two brothers who are younger but bigger, made her never afraid to get dirty or play physical. Softball was the sport she chose. She soared by playing all four years in high school and is now the Lady Monarchs center fielder. Juarez led Valley this season in runs (32), hits (44) and in batting average (.352).

“I just learned that my grandmother use to play soccer when she was younger,” she said. “We are the only two people in our family to play sports, it’s awesome.”

Softball presents a chance to press pause on being the mature older sister and play on being the teammate who leads chants, always making jokes and never stops smiling . It’s the outlet to release her wiggles — a la “Nacho Libre.”

“I think it makes me better,” she said of being loose on the field. ” When I am out there, I am very goofy among my teammates. I am very loud out there I never lose my voice.”

She is split on what her major should be, whether she will follow her mother’s footsteps as a nurse or possibly entering politics – she has entertained the notion of the House of Representatives – or something else. One thing is for sure: The 19-year-old freshman wants to ride her sport out of Valley.

“I am planning on getting a scholarship through softball because I do not want to bother my parents for money,” she said. “I personally do not care where it takes me I will take it. I just want to go and see the world. I just want to leave home.”

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