San Antonio Police Officer Danny Zamora has dedicated over 20 years to running the Police Athletic League (PAL), an organization in which members of the police force coach boys and girls in sports. With help from only one other partner, Officer Zamora coordinates after-school sports activities at the Edgewood Independent School District for about 1,500 children throughout the calendar year. “Edgewood teachers constantly tell me stories about the young kids who have been in the program, who make it to college and get a scholarship,” says Officer Zamora. “It’s humbling when teachers tell me if it hadn’t been for you, this kid wouldn’t have made it.”
Danny Zamora always felt like one of those kids. He was born and raised in Raymondville, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and now feels privileged to have grown up in a poor family. Zamora explained, “If I died today, I’d die a happy man because I was able to provide so much for my wife and kids that I never had.” To stay out of trouble, Zamora found a passion for sports and also found out that he had a talent in baseball. He played baseball for three seasons in college up until his father unexpectedly passed away.
He moved back home from college and had to find a job to pay the bills, so he landed the only job he could find as a deputy sheriff for the Willis County Sheriff’s Department. This career choice proved to be the right one for him as it has lead him to a 37-year career in law enforcement with eight years in Hidalgo County as a homicide detective and public information officer, followed by three years with Balcones Heights, and now with 26 years as a police officer with the San Antonio Police Department.
After teaching for Gang Resistance Education and Training (a gang and violence prevention program), Officer Zamora was hand-picked to coordinate sports programs with the Edgewood Independent School District. These programs include the Spurs youth basketball league, a midnight basketball league, a youth baseball program, and a girls’ volleyball program, and consist of children from low-income families.
Officer Zamora is responsible for making the PAL program what it is now, a program that keeps kids focused on sports and education where hundreds of students sign up every year. Zamora wishes the PAL program can branch out into other areas of San Antonio but since there are only two people running the program, there are far too many children to handle and not enough money. Currently, the programs get funded by sponsors like H-E-B, the San Antonio Spurs and the San Antonio Missions, and each year, Officer Zamora has to put on a fund-raising event to raise the rest of the $15,000 that pays for everything else. But he keeps his hopes high for broadening the program. With more sponsors, he would like to begin planning a division on the east-side.
In order for a student to participate in the PAL program, good grades, good attendance, and good behavior is required and if they aren’t excelling at school they can’t participate in the program. “I was one of those kids growing up so that’s why I’m so passionate about helping as many kids as possible and boost their self-esteem,” Zamora said.
The youth baseball championship game is scheduled for August 3rd at Nelson Wolff Stadium at 10 AM and 11:30 AM. It is free and open to the public. Blue Cares volunteers will be there to hand out water and ice cream to the participating students.