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An Exceptional Softball Coach Who’s Changing Lives

An Exceptional Softball Coach Who’s Changing Lives

I wanna read a letter that I
received from the players on a middle school softball
team in the Bronx, New York. Dear Ellen, we want to tell you
about this great man, who has not only been a teacher and a coach, but a
father, many of us do not have fathers and we were lost before this amazing
human stepped in and changed that. He has two children of his own, but, to him, every girl on the ladies’
Tigers softball team is his daughter. There was a time when we thought we
we’re losing him to stomach cancer but he continued to fight for all of us, he is
incredible and we want the whole world to know what he does for all girls from
the South Bronx, love, the Lady Tigers. That’s just one of the amazing
letters we received about this guy.>>[APPLAUSE]>>Chris
>>[APPLAUSE]>>Go on now and get players. Before we start talking I want
everyone to see more of your story.>>Hi, my name is Chris Astacio I’m a PE
teacher in the Tyler 1 South Bronx school. I’m also the head coach
of the Lady Tigers. My first year,
I knew the school was struggling. It was very chaotic. There were fights every day.>>And the most brutal
fights will amongst females. And I realized they needed something to be
proud about, they needed something to come together with, and
it just popped into my head, softball. It was very hard in the beginning because
I had girls that did not like each other. And so instead of teaching softball I was
teaching girls how to respect each other, how to respect themselves,
how to value themselves. And it took awhile, but it slowly but
surely became a family of sisters.>>These girls inspire
me every single day. I love them. These are my family. This is my dad, that’s my sisters.>>When I see him,
I see the father that I never had. Just because he’s not my father by blood
doesn’t mean I can’t still love him, and I can’t still call him my dad.>>In the beginning I kept on
trying to quit, and quit, and quit. And he wouldn’t let me quit. I think I just thought of myself so much that I felt that I couldn’t be happy. A dad is someone that’s there for me, it meant a lot because
he’s not even my father. I don’t know what I would do without him.>>I tell my girls,
we’re a family first, team second. In 2009 I was diagnosed
with stomach cancer. I had laparoscopic surgery where
they took a third of my stomach out. I didn’t think the pain was going to end.>>And we just saw how
strong he would stay for us. He would always say that he was
fine though we knew he wasn’t.>>I always tell these girls never quit. Don’t ever quit. And what kind of example
would I be if I quit? I feel like I’m cancer free
because of my family and my girls. [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE]
>>I just want you to see that this is not just about soccer. This is about improving these
girls’ lives, giving them hope, giving them something to live for. Because they deserve it. They deserve it. [MUSIC]>>[APPLAUSE]
>>[APPLAUSE] What an inspiring story that is. And what made you decide that
this was what your path is?>>I’m sorry, I love these girls,
that’s first of all, I love these girls. I had a sister who was
similar to these girls. She grew up in the Bronx and
she made bad decisions, bad choices. Ultimately, she passed away. And she always use to tell me, you should
become a teacher, should become a teacher. And, when she died, that’s when I made
the decision to become a teacher. And, [SOUND] I’m sorry.>>No, it’s very emotional,
and we surprised you. Your sister was 31 years old.>>Yes.>>And then not only,
here’s what I think is amazing, because you said the girls were fighting. They weren’t getting along. Nobody was really paying
attention in school. You made them focus on something
that’s not only good for them in a healthy lifestyle, but it’s
changed everyone in the school, hasn’t it? They become role models for
every girl in the school. I mean every girl wants to be them. In the beginning it was just a few girls
who wanted to join softball, like seven. This past year it was 60 girls
wanting to join softball.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>It’s transformation. It’s not only they transform the school,
they transformed themselves. In the beginning I saw
girls that were very angry. We wanted to give up, and four years, three years later, these girls,
they’re leaders of their school. I mean, they go outside in their
community, people recognize them. Those are those girls
in the orange shirts.>>How is he like a father? Who were you saying is like a father and
what way is he like a father? What we mean by he’s like a father,
he shows you love that, if you don’t have a father,
he’s there for you. The first that I ever came to the school,
he showed me love and I felt like a very special bond towards him, because I don’t
have a very big connection with my dad. So he’s kinda there for me.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Who’s Kylie and Briana and Caroline. Who’s who?>>I’m Kylie.>>Kylie.>>I’m Briana.>>I’m Caroline.>>And Briana,
how is he like a dad to you? To me it’s not just like a father, well
he’s not like my father, he is my father. Because, at a young age I lost my father. I didn’t have a connection with my
father and just for someone like Gustachio to come into my life and make
such a big change it means so much to me.>>I bet.>>In so many ways.>>I bet. And how is he like a dad to you? He is like a dad to me because I
have a lot of problems at home, it was my father so
I had to move to New York for my mum. So like I never had that type
of relationship with my dad. Like it was always fighting and
cursing me out so when I came to the school having him
>>Caring, and always checking on me would
impact my life and yeah.>>It’s really amazing. And, we have a lot of teachers and leaders
in schools on the show, as you know. And what you’re doing is so
important, because these girls are telling us what their
lives would have been like without you. So the fact that you have made an impact, the fact that you’re battling cancer,
the fact that you have helped these girls, I know you’re using your own money
a lot of times with different things. So Walmart has been an amazing partner
this year with us, and, they love to help people like you continue on helping and
giving back to your community. We’re gonna give you this check for 20,000 dollars from Walmart.>>[APPLAUSE]

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