40 Under 40: Latinos In Sports

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The 2016 sports season was filled with countless story lines ranging from redemptions, to walk off retirements and dramatic Olympic performances. And in the center of these were many influential Latinos.

However, even though Latinos have made great strides in sports, the community still faces multiple barriers to entry. This can be seen in becoming a professional, and Olympic athlete, as well as in the disproportionate amount of diversity in management, journalism and ownership positions vis-a-vis to the constantly evolving percentage of players of color in the NFL, NBA, and MLB to name a few.

Yet despite these obstacles various role models have cracked into this sector and have paved the way for many. Armando Salguero (Miami Herald) and Dan Le Batard (ESPN), Mauricio Sulaiman (WBC), Jose de Jesus Ortiz (St. Louis Dispatch), Tony Gonzalez (CBS), Jesse Sanchez (MLB), Angel Rodríguez (LA Times), Arturo “Artie”Moreno (Owner of LA Angels), Linda Alvarado (Owner of Colorado Rockies), Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan (Part-Owners of the Miami Dolphins), Oscar De La Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions), Fernando Aguirre (Owner of Erie Seawolves and Myrtle Beach Pelicans), David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox), Enrique Rojas (ESPN Deportes), Juan Carlos Rodriguez (Univision Deportes), Carlos A. Sanchez (Fox Deportes), Eric Ortiz (Truthdig and formerly NESN), Colleen Dominguez (Fox Sports), Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers) to name a few.

Today a new generation must continue their work and pave the way for the next generation of Latinos in sports, therefore here are 40 Latinos to watch. This class was selected by a committee of peers and is listed here in alphabetical order by first name.

1. Aaron Torres (Fox Sports):

Aaron is a Senior Writer for Fox Sports covering college football and college basketball. He is also the author of “The Unlikeliest Champion” and “One and Fun”. Torres is an alum of the University of Connecticut.

2. Alden Gonzalez (ESPN):

It’s been a long time since football was last played professionally in Los Angeles and now, Gonzalez is responsible for writing about the LA Rams for ESPN. Alden has also served as a reporter and columnist for MLB as well as a beat writer for the LA Angels.

3. Alex Iniguez (Pittsburgh Post Gazette):

Iniguez is the Associate Sports Editor for Digital at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The former Dow Jones News Fund sports copy editing intern was selected as one of four 2014-15 Associated Press Sports Editors diversity fellows.

4. Andrew Sendejo (Minnesota Vikings):

The Vikings ferocious defense might be the best in the NFL and the strong safety Sendejo is a big reason why. After going undrafted in the 2010 NFL draft, the Vikings took a shot with the San Antonio native in 2011 and in 2015 he was promoted to the starting lineup. Watch out for Sendejo and the Vikings.

5. Anthony Marc Robles (NCAA Wrestling Analyst and Expert at ESPN):

Born with only one leg, Robles won the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship in the 125-pound weight class and is a three-time all-American. His awards include NCAA Best Wrestler of the National Tournament in 2011, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPN ESPYs.

6. Beto Duran (Duran Sports):

Duran runs the Living the Dream Beto Duran Podcast while concurrently providing game and practice reports for the Lakers Spanish broadcast on Time Warner Cable Deportes and also as a play-by-play announcer for Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Boxing shows that airs nationally on FOX SPORTS 1. He has covered Southern California sports since 2005, primarily for ESPN Radio 710, as well as on TV for ESPN and Time Warner Cable Sports Net.

7. Blair Angulo (Scout Recruiting):

Angulo is a Recruiting Writer for Scout Recruiting where he covers football and basketball. Previously he was a West Coast recruiting analyst for rivals.com and before that provided recruiting coverage for ESPN Los Angeles.

8. Braulio Perez (NJ.com & The Star-Ledger):

Perez covers high school sports for NJ.com, prior to his time at NJ he was a sports editor for the Lynden Tribune and a freelance for Moscow Pullman Daily News. He’s also a WSU beat writer for scout.com

9. Cain Velasquez (UFC):

Velasquez is a former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and is ranked as the #2 heavyweight in the world by Sherdog. The decorated wrestler won the NJCAA national championship in the heavyweight division and attended Iowa Central Community College and Arizona State University. Watch out for this future Heavyweight Champion.

10. Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks):

The Knicks star forward is coming off his 3rd Olympic gold win in Rio and 4th overall medal. The 9 time All-Star and counting also won the NCAA college basketball championship at Syracuse, but his on-court achievements may be overshadowed by his charitable off court work by building and re-building basketball courts in Puerto Rico.

11. Caterine Ibarguen (Triple Jump):

After winning silver in her last Olympic games, Ibargüen won the gold medal for team Colombia at her event in the women’s triple jump where she jumped 15.17m.

12. Cesar De La Vega (The Baseball Foundation/The City Project):

Cesar is the Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow at The City Project and a Co-Founder of The Baseball Foundation. The City Project is a Los Angeles based, multicultural, Latino-led nonprofit organization that believes all people should have access to healthy, livable communities. His work at The City Project and co-founding The Baseball Foundation stems from his recognition of the ways in which sports can influence healthy change in communities.

13. Crisselle Santana Rivera (Roc Nation):

Santana Rivera is an Athlete Manager at Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports. Look out for her as well as this growing organization.

14. Danell Leyva (USA Gymnastics):

Leyva won two silver medals in Rio 2016. Despite not being a first pick selection to the Olympics, Leyva was called up do to an injury and left Rio as the most decorated US Men’s Gymnast.

15. Daniel Suarez (NASCAR):

The Joe Gibbs Racing star Suarez is the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race, earn a national series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award and lead a national series in points.

16. Dario Soto (Herbalife International):

Soto serves as the Global Sports Sponsorship Manager at Herbalife International where he leads their global sponsorships in Latin America on key initiatives with national soccer teams, soccer clubs, federations, Olympic Committees and athletes. He holds an M.A. from Long Beach State and the University of Lleida in Sports Management and a B.A. from UCLA.

17. Diana Taurasi (USA Women’s Basketball):

The Two-time WNBA Champion (2009, 2007) Taurasi took home her fourth Olympic gold medal with team USA. The 2009 WNBA MVP and Seven-time All-WNBA First Team (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004) is the starting guard for the Phoenix Mercury.

18. Dylan Hernandez (LA Times):

Dylan Hernandez is the Dodgers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times. Before that, he worked at the San Jose Mercury News, covering everything from baseball to soccer.

19. Iliana Limon Romero (Orlando Sentinel):

Formerly of the Albuquerque Tribune, the University of New Mexico Alumnus is the College sports and pro soccer editor at the Orlando Sentinel.

20. Israel Gutierrez (ESPN):

Gutierrez is a sports reporter for ESPN. He previously worked for The Miami Herald as well as The Palm Beach Post. He is also an NBA Columnist for ESPN.com and regular participant on Around the Horn.

21. Jackie Galloway (Taekwondo):

The 20-year-old team USA Galloway, won a bronze medal in taekwondo in Rio 2016. Before her impressive performance, at the age of 16 she was named an alternate to Mexico’s London 2012 Olympic team. Her Taekwondo career began at age 7 in her parents dojo.

22. James Wagner (New York Times):

Wagner is a New York Mets beat writer for the New York Times. Previously he covered the Washington Nationals for the Washington Post.

23. Jason Martinez (Roster Resource):

Martinez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for Roster Resource. He concurrently works as a field timing coordinator and stats stringer for MLB. Jason also writes for MLB Trade Rumors.

24. Jen Lada (ESPN):

Lada, began her career as a FOX6 sports anchor. She then advanced to a position with Comcast SportsNet Chicago. At ESPN she has hosted Baseball Tonight and has co-hosted a radio show and has made regular appearances on programs such as Mike & Mike and First Take.

25. Jessica Mendoza (ESPN):

Mendoza is a former collegiate 4-time First Team All-American softball player and sportscaster. On August 24, 2015 she became the first female analyst for a Major League Baseball game in the history of ESPN. In 2006, Jessica was named the USA Softball “Female Athlete of the Year.”

26. Jorge Casimiro (Nike):

Casimiro serves as the Vice President of Nike’s Global Community Impact and President of the Nike Foundation. He previously served in various senior roles for The Coca-Cola Company.

27. Jorge Castillo (Washington Post):

Castillo is the Washington Nationals beat writer for the Washington Post. Previously he was a writer for the Washington Wizards.

28. Jorge Sedano (ESPN):

Sedano is now the co-host of the new bilingual sports show Nacion ESPN on ESPN 2. In addition, he is also the host of ESPN Los Angeles.

29. Laurie Hernandez (Gymnastics):

Hernandez really belongs in the 20 under 20 section, if there was one, but until then the 16-year-old phenom gold medalist is every bit of deserving to be on this list. She won her first gold and silver medals during her very first Olympic Games in Rio.

30. Madeline “Maya” DiRado (USA Swimming):

The Stanford graduate DiRado could not have asked for more in bringing home two golds, a silver, and one bronze medal in her very first Olympics. She is now a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company.

31. Manu Ginóbli (San Antonio Spurs):

Off the court, Ginóbili has helped raise awareness in Latino countries about the NBA which has led to an increase in the number of Latino players in the league. Through organizations such as Basketball without Borders. His contributions are opening the doors for numerous Latinos. On the court, he is a four-time NBA champion.

32. Mariana Pajon (BMX):

After winning her second gold medal in the women’s BMX event Pajon is the first Colombian athlete to win two gold medals.

33. Monica Puig (Tennis):

She not only became the first Puerto Rican woman to win an Olympic medal, she became the first Puerto Rican to win the gold. In a time when her country is facing financial stress, she put it all on her back and lifted everyone’s spirits.

34. Nico Hernandez (Boxing):

The 20-year-old Hernandez shocked the boxing world by beating higher seeded opponents in route to a bronze medal. His performance led to the first men’s boxing medal since 2008.

35. Paula Pareto (Judo):

If there was a 40 under 40 health section, Pareto would qualify because she is a physician. After winning the bronze in her first Olympics in 2008 in Beijing Pareto won a gold medal in Rio for team Argentina.

36. Paul “P-Rod” Rodriguez (Primitive Skateboarding):

Rodriguez was the first skateboarder to be endorsed as an official Nike Athlete, as well as the first Mexican-American to earn a signature shoe for Nike. In 2004, he won his first of 3 Gold Medals in the X Games. He is also the owner of Primitive Skateboarding.

37. Roberto Osuna (Toronto Blue Jays):

Osuna of Sinaloa Mexico was invited to spring training in 2015 as a non-roster invitee. And against all odds he made the team at the ripe age of 20. Today the 21-year-old closer has helped lead his two to back to back American League Championship Series appearances while already racking up over 55 saves in his young major league career. Keep an eye on this young talent.

38. Sarah Robles (Weightlifting):

After overcoming drastic obstacles prior to Rio, the Mexican-American weightlifter Robles won the bronze which is the first weightlifting medal for the US since 2000.

39. Scott Gomez (NHL Network):

Gomez is the first Latino to ever play in the NHL. His career with the Devils has seen immense success as he contributed to two Stanley Cup championships in 2000 and 2003. With this early acclaim, Gomez sees himself as a role model for Latino youths who don’t necessarily have the same exposure to hockey like he did as a boy in Alaska.

40. Steven Gonzalez (MLB):

Gonzalez serves as the Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, for Labor and Human Resources at Major League Baseball.

So there you have it. Who else should be in the future lists? Who are some of the other outstanding Latinos who merit mentions next Hispanic Heritage Month? Let us know by submitting nominations using this form and by tweeting at me.

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