Entertainment

Mexican Jockey Victor Espinoza Started at a Goat Farm, Now He’s Dancing With the Stars

Rob Carr / Getty

Victor Espinoza’s name will go down in history. He became the first jockey in 37 years to win horse racing’s Triple Crown after riding American Pharaoh to a resounding victory at the Belmont Stakes. Here’s a closer look at Espinoza, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey.

He’s the 11th of 12 Children

My bro and I

A photo posted by Victor Espinoza (@espinozasvictor) on

That’s Victor on the right with his brother Jose, a retired jockey. Espinoza told the Washington Post that he can’t always remember the names of his siblings.

He Lived on a Goat Farm in Mexico

Victor Espinoza at the ESPN Espy Awards

Photo Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty

As a kid, Espinoza used to help his brother herd more than 2,000 goats on a farm. Now he gets honored at events like the ESPYs.

He’s One of 11 Jockeys to Win Horse Racing’s Triple Crown

Victor Espinoza riding American Pharaoh at the Belmont Stakes

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty

He’s also the first Latino to win the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

TV Cameras Caught Him Saying “Holy Shit” After His Win

https://vine.co/v/eMjtPJuntFJ

The mic also picked up Espinoza saying something that rhymes with “Fruta Madre.”  One of the assistants was heard telling Espinoza, “¡Dame otro pinche abrazo, cabrón!”

READ: This is Why Alex Torres Wears a Funny Hat

He Donated his Belmont Stakes Winnings to Charity

Martha #City Hope

A photo posted by Victor Espinoza (@espinozasvictor) on

Espinoza announced that he would donate all of his winnings – $80,000 minus what he pays his agent and assistants – to City of Hope, a cancer research and treatment center. He’s been donating 10 percent of his winnings to City of Hope for several years.

He’s Earned More than $4.5 million Over the Course of His Career

Victor Espinoza riding California Chrome
Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Not bad for a guy who used to work as a horse groomer and bus driver.

He’s Met with Royalty

Jockey Victor Espinoza with England's Queen Elizabeth

Photo Credit: Kristin Sinclair / Getty

That’s Espinoza with Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Ascot race in England.

He’s a Fan of Breaking Bad

First win of the day @delmarracing

A photo posted by Victor Espinoza (@espinozasvictor) on

Espinoza proudly shows off his Los Pollos Hermanos shirt after a race at Del Mar racetrack in California.

He’s Got Big Arms for a Guy Who is Only 5’2″

Jockey Victor Espinoza rides California Chrome
Photo Credit: csak / flickr

Is that a bulletproof vest for those guns, Victor?

 READ: Sports Reporter Beto Duran is L.A.’s Man of the People

He’s Got a Decent Sinker

Victor Espinoza first pitch at New York Yankees game

After his Belmont Stakes victory, Espinoza threw out the first pitch at a Yankees game. He walked all the way out to the rubber and threw a nice little sinker that earned applause from the Yankee faithful.

He Isn’t Short on Confidence

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 06: Victor Espinoza, celebrates atop American Pharoah #5, in the winner's circle after winning the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, 2015 in Elmont, New York. With the wins American Pharoah becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Photo Credit: Rob Carr / Getty

During an interview on the Today ShowEspinoza said American Pharaoh could have won by a larger margin: “I could have won a little bit farther. Maybe another three or four lengths.”

Now, Espinoza has made it all the way to Dancing With the Stars.

espinoza-espys

Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty

His dance partner will be Ukranian beauty Karina Smirnoff, a former DWTS winner who has three inches on Espinoza (she’s 5’3″).

What do you think of Espinoza’s rags-to-riches story? Share on Facebook and let your friends know!

Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez Just Bragged So Hard About Her Parents And It’s The Cutest Thing

Entertainment

Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez Just Bragged So Hard About Her Parents And It’s The Cutest Thing

@lauriehernandez / Instagram

In 2016, a group of five young athletes went to the Summer Olympics in Rio Janerio with big dreams. There, the Olympians competed to be named the best in the world in their individual and group categories. Nicknamed the “Fab Five,” the women went on to earn silver and gold medals at the international games; proving that the gymnasts were the best of the best.

That same year, Laurie Hernandez — a member of the five — also earned gold on the TV dancing show, “Dancing with the Stars.” The athlete then focused her attention on the literary world. In 2017, she published her New York Times bestselling memoir, “I Got This,” and, in 2018, released her children’s picture book, “She’s Got This.” Hernandez even has a new hosting gig on “American Ninja Warrior” to keep her busy.

It seems that with every challenge she takes on, she succeeds.

Now the gymnast has her eyes set on 2020 and her next shot at Olympic greatness.

Twitter / @LaurieHernandez

Recently, Hernandez sat down with REFINERY 29 and shared her thoughts on power. Specifically, the Olympian explained what makes her feel powerful and what she does in those occasional times when she’s left feeling a little bit powerless.

Unsurprisingly, the athlete explained that she feels most powerful when moving and active. She discussed her workouts, saying:

“Sometimes it’s just gymnastics, but sometimes it’s doing other things, too — like cycling. But just testing how my body works makes me feel most powerful.”

Hernandez went on to elaborate that — to her —  power isn’t just about physical strength. The Latina believes that power also lies in having a strong spirit and mind. She added:

“Gymnastics can be more mental than physical sometimes. So throughout training, going through different tests — whether that’s competing with a lot of people or just with yourself can build your mental strength. So, just learning how to calm myself down; I think that’s pretty powerful.”

The Olympic medalist admitted that it’s her relationship with her parents that brings her back when she’s feeling less than powerful.

Twitter / @Variety

Hernandez explained that even though she and her family are living on two separate coasts, her mom and dad are still the people she goes to when she needs a pep talk. She admitted:

“The first thing I do is reach out to my family and close friends. Sometimes I feel like they know me better than I know myself. Especially my mom and dad; they’ve been supporting me since day one. I feel like they have all the answers. Right now I’m training in California and my family is in New Jersey, so there’s a lot of FaceTime going on.”

Not only do her parents help her when she’s feeling powerless, but they are also her role models when it comes to strength.

Twitter / @OKMagazine

The Latinidad is very family-oriented so we can relate to this. Hernandez doesn’t just look to her parents to revitalize her when she feels powerless. She also considers them her examples when the athlete thinks about what power looks like. After asking if she could pick her mom and dad as her power icons in the interview, Hernandez continued:

“My icons are my parents. After having to raise three kids, they’ve gone through a lot of different struggles. My siblings and I have been able to do so much in our lives because we had a really good foundation. There’s only so much your parents can give you, and yet it feels like our parents really gave us the world.”

She went on to explain that the example that her parents provided her and her siblings early on setting them up for the rest of their lives.

“I think without that foundation and without the things they taught us when we were little, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They’re so kind to other people, and that’s something that I want to follow their lead on. So, they’re my power icons.”

Hernandez ended the interview by saying that her power anthem is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” and it only seems too fitting because it looks like nothing can stop the Latina athlete from achieving her dreams. We will be rooting for more gold for the gymnast in her return back to competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Not One Of The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Is Latina, Here’s Why

Entertainment

Not One Of The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Is Latina, Here’s Why

@downtownlasoccerclub

On July 7, the U.S. Women’s National Team went up against the Netherlands Women’s National Team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and USWNT took home the championship cup. During the team’s victory speech in New York, U.S. women’s soccer star and forward, Megan Rapinoe, said, “We got white girls, black girls, and everything in between.”

However, Rapinoe should have thought twice before making that statement. After all, what exactly did she mean by “everything in between” if the U.S. Women’s National Team didn’t feature a single Latina woman on its roster this year?

Rapinoe’s comments recently inspired a Los Angeles Times story about an L.A. girls soccer club trying to make the face of women’s soccer.

Columnist Bill Plaschke spoke to young soccer players from the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, whose team is mostly made up of Latina athletes “facing economic and cultural battles that have long kept them on the soccer sidelines.” The Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club is made up of 175 girls trying to change the face of women’s soccer that has historically been dominated by white women. 

“That’s why …. I like watching [the U.S. Women’s national team] and everything, but I still say my idol is Lionel Messi,” said 15-year-old-striker Nayelli Barahona

This critique of the U.S. Women’s National Football Team is not new. When they also held the title for world champions in 2017, NPR’s Latino USA published an article “Why Is Women’s Soccer so White?” 

Audio producer and journalist Michael Simon Johnson writes, “The United States women’s national soccer team is far from a beacon of diversity, especially when compared to their male counterparts. With few women of color––and no Latinas––the team is extremely white, in spite of soccer’s entrenched place in Latin American culture.” 

However, the issue isn’t that young girls of color aren’t interested in playing the sport. 

But rather, as NPR notes, “youth soccer’s play-to-play system favors not necessarily the most talented children, but the children of parents who can afford elite clubs’ steep fees.” Club soccer fees run from $2,000 to $5,000 annually, per the Los Angeles Times.

That’s where Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club comes in. Their club president Mick Muhlfriedel helps run the all-volunteer operation out of a middle school field in Pico-Union. According to Mulhfriedel, “some of the girls contribute $25 a month. Most pay nothing.” 

Since the 1991 World Cup, there have been 12 women of color on the U.S. World Cup or Olympic teams.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, 14-year-old girls drop out sports at twice the rate of boys. 

“Add in the lack of diverse role models and access, transportation issues and the cost, the number of obstacles facing girls of color in the game of soccer becomes poignantly evident. Although progress has been slow, there has been progress. It would be remiss to not acknowledge some of the black players who are trailblazing on the field,” writes Stephanie Taylor of Girls Soccer Network.

In September 2018, Hope Solo also penned an opinion piece that focused on what’s wrong when the U.S. women’s soccer teams are dominated by “white girls next door.”

She writes that race was something most people on the teams she played didn’t want to discuss or even acknowledge. 

“Over most of my 20-year career, I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable some teammates were around certain coaches or officials. Most players wanted to represent the US, to be at the Olympics or the World Cup, and they’re proud to be on the team. So they kept quiet. But those conversations with teammates who felt things were off, means race is an issue we need to discuss a whole lot more,” Solo writes. “The numbers are very clear. We need more men and women of color to represent US national teams. So few players of color representing the USWNT means there are great athletes across the country we are ignoring.” 

The Los Angeles Times also cites that according to NCAA reports from 2017-2018, only 8% of female soccer players were Latino women. This is why it’s so important to not only advocate for young Latina athletes but also help mobilize the conversations further surrounding not only gender parity’s in professional sports but also race. 

In the last two years, the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club has won three of their eight major tournaments and made it to the finals three other times. This fall, the Los Angeles Times writes that they’ll compete in the prestigious Premier division of the Coast Soccer League and compete in the California Regional League. 

The young Latina soccer players from the Down Los Angeles Soccer Club seem to be resilient soccer players passionate and determined.

More importantly, they seem resolute in their efforts to change the face of future World Cup and soccer matches that take place on a national stage.

Here’s to hoping we see some of these young talented players giving that victory speech or holding the cup in the future. 

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