By Joseph Garcia
Free time is spent in a variety of ways for different people, but for Liberty Hill senior Austin Zamarripa he does more than just play America’s pastime (baseball) when he is not working on his studies. He also is a mentor to young students at Mitchell Elementary in Georgetown.
The second baseman scored Liberty Hill’s crucial second run in the first inning on Tuesday night in the Panthers’ 3-0 win over St. Andrews, but Zamarripa also scores points off the field by volunteering.
He does anything from helping kids with their homework to doing arts and crafts as well as playing with them at recess.
“I enjoy volunteering at my mother’s (Susan) elementary school (Mitchell) to help mentor kids,” said Zamarripa. “I started doing that about two years ago. I enjoy helping kids to have a better future and being there as a friend for them.”
Zamarripa, 17, is a San Antonio native who has lived in Liberty Hill for seven years. He started playing the game of baseball when he was in the third grade. He enjoys playing baseball because of the pace of the game and the level of intellect it involves.
“You don’t have to be some 6-4 guy and weigh 225 pounds to be able to be good,” he said. “It’s a game of skill and thinking.”
Zammy, as he is referred to by his friends, believes this year’s team can end up being “great” after a shaky start to the season. He and the Panthers are on a three-game winning streak after dropping their first eight outings.
He said there is a plethora of talent of the roster and when the end of the regular season draws near, he expects the Panthers to be a district championship contender with aspirations of a long postseason ride.
“There are lots of guys that have plenty of talent,” Zamarripa said. “Each week that goes by I feel like we’re improving more and more. I expect us to grow as a team. It would be shocking to me if we don’t go deep in the playoffs.”
Zamarripa bats second in the lineup for the Panthers and as one of four seniors on the team he puts the onus on himself to be a leader in the clubhouse by example. He is not the guy who will give a speech or show too much emotion before a game. Instead he goes about his business in a professional manner and lets his teammates take their cue from him.
“I know that I am not a vocal leader and I’m fine with that,” Zamarripa explained. “I try to lead my team by my actions and how I perform.”
Liberty Hill Coach Mike Kristan agreed that Zamarripa leads by example and lets his play do the talking.
“He competes (out there) and has played enough baseball to do a good job,” Kristan said. “He’s an all-A (student) and a really good kid.”
But it is not all academics, volunteer work and baseball for Zamarripa, his other hobbies include hanging out with friends and family, fishing and playing other sports for fun. He also enjoys traveling.
He recalls a trip he and his family took last summer to Destin, Fla., as the coolest experience of his life.
“I went and stayed there for a week in a beach house,” he said. “It was an amazing experience. I got to jet ski, surf, fishing, took walks along the beach, snorkeling, went our tours of the ocean and got to eat at the local restaurants. When I left there I felt as if I was in a dream, because it was perfect.”
Right now his team is perfect on their home field (1-0) and he will continue to strive for greatness and inspire his team along the way. After all, he is an inspiring young man with plenty to give.