Introducing Cruz Morales, Jr… born and raised in El Paso’s South side, and Class of 88′ Bowie Bear Alumni by way of Beall Elementary and Guillen Middle… he is also a proud Gulf War Veteran of the Air Force. For the past 15 years, Cruz has been facilitating sporting events, including basketball tournaments on the corner of Raynor and Findley for children, youth, and adults.
Playoffs for the El Barrio men’s basketball league are underway through June as fourteen teams compete to try and make it to the finals. Over the past couple years, my younger brothers have been participating in the adult men’s b-ball league.
We got the chance to talk to Cruz about the sports club and its history. For Cruz it goes back to the gang rivalries that disconnected youth from each other and the community. Living in a historically under served and low-income area only added to the struggles of gang involved youth reconnecting to something positive in the community. This motivated Cruz, who understood their circumstances and today is the director for the El Barrio Sports Club. For Cruz being able to bridge the gap through sports amongst a generation of kids who’s parents were once gang rivals, is what Cruz is most proud of. With support from city representatives such as Courtney Niland and neighborhood collaboration, the El Barrio Sports Club is about creating affordable and accessible opportunities for children, youth, and adults to play, compete, and connect with each other in a family friendly environment.
And it’s not only basketball. Cruz helps coordinate volleyball tournaments (currently planning for September) and soccer for both males and females, children to adults. For more information you can email Cruz Morales, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (915) 858-1915 ext. 69132.
Photograph and write up by Lee Rhyanes*