CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — May 24 marks one year since the horrific school shooting that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde.
The Ingleside High School Baseball team traded in their signature blue for purple as they paid tribute to one of the youngest lives lost -- and welcomed her father as a special guest to throw out the first pitch.
Ingleside ISD Head Baseball Coach Richard Sanchez said he wanted to honor the memory of Amerie Jo Garza, one of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the Uvalde school shooting.
"I just wanted to have a night to honor not just Amerie's memory but the 21 victims the families that were affected," he said.
For Sanchez, Uvalde holds a much closer place in his heart than most know.
"Because that was home, Robb Elementary, that was my first job out of college," he said.
Garza was a fourth grader who loved to swim and draw and wanted to become an art teacher. The team traded in their signature blue for purple -- Amerie's favorite color.
Alfred Garza, Amerie's father, said that since the tragedy, he and other families have received overwhelming support from all over.
"21 in the front for Uvalde, art palette on the side," he said as he pointed to the jersey he and the team wore.
Alfred's visit to Ingleside comes as the nation deals with even more heartache.
"Beyond Nashville there are so many other school shootings that are happening across the nation and its upsetting, you know, kids are so innocent, they don't deserve to be put through what they are being put through," he said.
Despite his tragic loss, Alfred said moments like this, being on the diamond of a South Texas High School Baseball Field, surrounded by people who care -- help keep his daughters memory alive.
"I know she wouldn't want me to be sad all the time and just I think about her, some days are hard but I have good days too," he said.
Alfred thanks his best friend Coach Sanchez for his daughter's recognition, and also took a moment to thank the team who helped honor her life.
Leo Villarreal is center fielder for the Ingleside Mustangs. He said that the game Friday night holds a new personal meaning for them.
"It means a lot to me and the program, coaches, means a lot to that little girl, she's looking down on us and I know she's having fun," he said.
Sanchez told 3NEWS that this moment helps to teach his team valuable life lessons.
"There are bigger things than wins or losses bigger than what happens on a field," he said.
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