El Paso, Texas-- Isabella Slape, a graduate of Bel Air High School and collegiate softball player, has been selected to represent the United States in a softball match against the Cuban national team. Slape will be the only Texan player and the first-ever representative from El Paso.
"It was really out of a movie," Isabella said about being selected for the team. Her love for softball began at a young age.
"I was about 4-years-old and my brother was playing baseball and I would always go to the practices with my dad because he's the head coach of the team and I would always go and steal my brother's cleats,” said Slape.
After seeing her interest in playing baseball, Slape’s parents decided to create a team for her and other young girls to play the sport of softball.
“Since then, I've been busy for 19 years,” said Slape.
When Slape first received the news that she would be joining the USA Travel Softball Team for the COPA Amistad Tournament, she was in shock.
"The first headline was 'you're going to Cuba,' and I was like, no way, I read it like 15 times. So I sent screenshots to my parents cause they were at work and I said, you'll never believe what just happened. It was truly just a blessing, and it made me realize that at that moment, all the sacrifices that I've been through were just all worth it in the end,” said Slape.
However, the cost of the trip is high, and Isabella is seeking financial assistance through donations. The trip, which includes plane tickets, meals, uniforms, medical insurance, and transportation, amounts to around $10,000.
Isabella has started a GoFundMe campaign and is a member of the ELLA foundation, which stands for Empowering Leadership in Latina Athletes. She hopes to spread the word about this opportunity and encourage other young women in her hometown and sport that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
"I want to get the word out in my community of this accomplishment to try and encourage other young women in my hometown and sport that they can achieve anything they set their minds to," Isabella said. "El Paso has taught me the true meaning of community, and there is no better way to repay my people than playing at the highest level I can."
Isabella is proud to be the first Texan player in the team's history and the only representative from El Paso. Her high school coach, Cecilio Porras, describes her as a hardworking young lady with determination.
"We're very proud, and she deserves that," he said. "It's always important that you have that support at home, that the parents are there. It takes a lot of traveling, a lot of time for the parents to be doing this, so I think they deserve a lot of credit too."
With financial assistance and support from the ELLA foundation, Isabella is ready to take on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and make her community proud. If you would like to make a donation or would like more information on sponsorship opportunities, click here.