They have yet to play games, but the Gunn varsity and JV softball teams already are off to a good start after having a chance to meet Andres Torres of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Torres spoke to both teams recently at Gunn during practice. He was invited by Gunn JV coach Leslie Conover, who knows Torres through teammate Pablo Sandoval. Conover and Sandoval have worked together on autograph events through Sports Gallery, one of which is located on University Avenue in Palo Alto.
"Andres and Pablo roomed together and are best friends," Conover said. "So, it was very natural to work with Torres, too. Through our working relationships and mutual friends, we have developed a friendship."
Conover said that Torres has made it clear who much he enjoys reaching out to Giants fans the Bay Area community.
"Andres's personal community outreach is very important to him," Conover said. "He really loves putting himself out there for the good of society. Sports Gallery has heavy involvement with Bay Area community outreach through our various programs that include fundraising for the SF Giants Community Fund/Junior Giants, the SF 49ers Foundation and Special Olympics. So, Andres and Sports Gallery have like interests and many things in common."
When Torres met the Gunn softball players, "he wanted to spread education, motivation and inspiration to these young ladies, who really take the sport of softball seriously," Conover explained. "It was his first time ever speaking to a female baseball team, and he really enjoyed the opportunity to share his story with them.
Torres gave the teams tips on hitting, base running, training and mental preparation for games.
"He gave in-depth insight on his World Series and playoff experience to us, as well, and his history as an athlete in Puerto Rico," Conover said. "The girls were impacted by Andres's words of wisdom and the advice has resonated.
"One parent e-mailed me the following: 'My daughter Claire Collins plays on the Gunn softball team. She was thrilled that you were able to get Andres Torres to come meet with the team. Claire is a big baseball fan and was both intrigued and inspired to hear things like how a major leaguer still got nervous in the playoffs and how relaxing and seeing the ball were key to his success at the plate. She talked about it non-stop when she got home.' "