Author: Danielle Zahn, Pure Game Field Champion and Research and Development Coordinator
For the second installment of our Field Champion Spotlight series, Pure Game would like to introduce one of our newest team members, Cristina Velasquez. Cristina was recently hired by Pure Game to serve as the organization’s Director of Development. In this role, Cristina is a vital member of the Leadership Team and uses her expertise to oversee all fundraising activities, creating plans for the long-term growth and sustainability of Pure Game. With Cristina on board, Pure Game has a promising future of being able to serve countless students for years to come. Read on to discover how Cristina’s journey with Pure Game began, and how her role will impact the young lives we serve!
Pure Game: How did you get involved with Pure Game?
Cristina Velasquez: I sent a few LinkedIn messages to my friends to let them know I had started a new job. As a result, I reconnected with my friend, Anthony Cummings (a Pure Game Field Champion), on LinkedIn. One message about the organization led to a meeting, and the rest is history. Within a few days, I had set up a meeting with Anthony and Pure Game’s founder, Tony Everett. Shortly after, I visited one of their programs and was immediately impressed by the work that Pure Game was doing in Orange County, so I decided to join the team.
PG: What inspired you to join the Pure Game staff?
CV: I joined Pure Game because I know first-hand how important it is to have mentors in school while growing up. When I was in elementary school, I participated in the P.A.L. (Peer Assistant Leadership) program, and in high school, I participated in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. I was a very shy child in elementary school, and P.A.L. gave me the confidence to interact with my peers. My AVID mentors (AVID teachers, AVID tutors, and AVID counselor) showed me that I mattered. I am grateful for all the tools they gave me to succeed in college, but most importantly, they helped me believe in myself, and for that, I will forever be grateful to them. From my experience, I believe that Pure Game can provide students with the same type of mentorship and opportunities for personal growth that I had growing up, which is very important to me. I was also really drawn to the use of sports in the programs offered by Pure Game, as sports have been a big part of my life. Over the years, I have been able to run game operations for a Major League Soccer team, I have worked international games with CONCACAF and US Soccer, and I have worked with many international soccer teams. However, Pure Game is more than a sports program; Pure Game is changing the lives of students that participate in their programs. I am an example of how programs like Pure Game impact students’ lives, and I want to do the same for youth in the community today.
PG: How would you describe Pure Game in your own words?
CV: If I had to describe Pure Game, I would encourage people to please think of Pure Game as more than just a sports program. Pure Game is more than just fun and games, with character-building being a significant component of the program. Pure Game’s Field Champions are truly helping develop the leaders of tomorrow.
PG: How will Pure Game help you in your personal development?
CV: Pure Game will give me the opportunity to give back to the youth of Orange County. Through my work at Pure Game, I will be able to provide students the same opportunities that were given to me when I was a child.
PG: What kind of impact have you seen in the schools Pure Game services, and how would you like your role to impact schools?
CV: I joined Pure Game during the early months of the Coronavirus, yet I have still been able to see first-hand how Pure Game has impacted not only students, but also entire families. The Coronavirus has brought about a lot of stress and anxiety for students and parents, and the Remote Recess Program videos and worksheets from Pure Game have helped lessen some of those feelings. What’s great is that the videos are designed for the entire family to participate, not just the students. As a new team member of Pure Game, I would like to see more schools enrolled in our programs. The more schools that enroll in our programs, the more students that we will impact!
PG: Why should people support Pure Game’s Programs?
CV: I am excited to be part of Pure Game, and I am excited to see the program grow. Because of the Coronavirus, we need your help now more than ever. We do not know what the new school year is going to look like. Schools are losing funding for programs like Pure Game, and it will be heartbreaking to lose school partners because of a lack of funding. Students need mentors like our Field Champions. We need your support to continue to provide programming for our school partners. Remember, Pure Game is more than a sports program. We need people like you to support Pure Game to continue to impact the lives of students in the community!