South Carolina Athletics certainly has its own melting pot of cultures with a diverse group of student-athletes and staff from many parts of the world. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), several Gamecocks proudly speak about what their Hispanic heritage means to them.
“It’s important because it’s nice to be acknowledged,” said Kiki Estrada, a sophomore on the softball team, who also plays for the Mexican National Team and is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico. She is originally from Chino Hills, California, but her grandparents on her father’s side are from Mexico and came to the U.S. “As a family, it’s nice because my grandparents did come here from Mexico, and all things they had to do to come to the States was really big. So, being able to represent Mexico is something I take a lot of pride in. When I’m playing for Mexico, I’m not only representing the country, but I’m representing my grandparents.”
“Being Afro-Latino, it gave me experiences growing up that you might not hear from a lot of people,” said Josue Richardson Salazar, a freshman on the track and field team hailing from Charleston but whose father is from Mexico. “My dad came here to the U.S. when he was around 18 or 19. When it comes to this time of year, it brings me a lot closer to family. I’m usually indulging in my culture a little bit more than other parts of the year. This is like a close second to Christmas! I like going out dancing and trying new food.”
“I grew up in that culture,” said Elizabeth Gloria, who is an academic advisor for South Carolina football and men’s golf and is first generation Mexican-American with both of her parents hailing from Mexico. She was born in Michigan but grew up in Florida. “They’re immigrants to this country and don’t speak English. My parents were farm workers, so they traveled a lot for harvest seasons. My first language is Spanish. My whole lifestyle is Mexican lifestyle.”
While Estrada and Richardson Salazar haven’t lived outside the U.S., having relatives from Mexico draws them closer to that part of their heritage.
“I have so many relatives from Mexico,” Richardson Salazar said. “I’m planning to visit sometime next summer.”
“It makes it more meaningful because they’re my blood, and I get to see them when I go home,” said Estrada, who is in her first year with Gamecocks after transferring from Arkansas. “They’re from…