Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Youth Sports Umpire
Between volunteering for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), as a Knight of Columbus, or simply helping a struggling parent find resources for their family, Jose Ramirez rarely misses an opportunity to help his neighbors. He is a constant fixture in youth sports all over the region. His friends tell story after story about times Jose has gone out of his way to make the lives of children a little brighter. "I don't think a week goes by that he's not calling me about where and how to get some kind of help for someone," said his nominator. As a youth umpire, Jose goes the extra mile with acts of kindness. He sees the children he referees as individuals and will look for ways to inspire them to be the best they can be through sports.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born and raised in the Broderick area of West Sacramento. I played sports throughout my life. As soon as I got out of school I started coaching. I was blessed to have many great coaches that kept me out of trouble. John Gonzalves and Dave Sidhu, just to name a couple. When I started coaching, myself, I ran into bad umpires. By making bad calls, they discouraged the whole spirit of the game for a lot of kids. It killed me to see the kids affected this way. One day I told an umpire "I am taking your job", and... here we are. I do my very best to always be fair and knowledgeable of any and all rules/ rule changes. I now umpire softball and baseball, and I referee flag football and basketball. Now it's been 17 years and some 5000+ games later. I'd like to think I've made a difference.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I am just one person out of a lot of great people that work to help our community. To name a couple, Pete Venegas and Brother Steve Palmer. They are an inspiration to me. I try to carry extra coats in the winter and sports equipment (flag football sets, bats, gloves, cleats, balls, helmets, catchers gear, etc.), for the current season, in case I see someone who needs them. Anything that I am aware of the kids needing, I do my best to assist them in getting it...whether from me or someone who can help them. I try to remember all of the kids, but I don't do it alone. For example, Round Table Pizza is so good to me because they give me coupons, for personal pizzas, to hand out to the kids. When I see a kid step up to the plate, and they are nervous or timid, I just try to give them incentive. I cheer them on or sometimes I tell them I'll buy them a hot dog if they give me a hit. It gets them swinging, and that's what we want. It is important that the kids learn confidence, teamwork and good sportsmanship. They learn how to deal with winning and losing... and to keep trying. If they are playing ball, they are safe and not getting into trouble.
Why is the work important to you?
Because they are kids! They're the future and what makes our community better. When I was a kid, my dad made sure that every year, or every other year, we went on a family vacation. Now that I am older, I realize how impossible that can be. Not all families can do that. I think it's important that kids have fun and family time. I think that sports are a great way for that to happen, locally. I try to help make that happen when possible.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of reconnecting with my daughter, Sonia. Now I have a beautiful granddaughter from her, and I am privileged to be a consistent part of their lives. But, I love it when I see kids that I have coached, umpired or officiated, and they have kids of their own now, and they tell their kids "Joe was my favorite umpire/referee when I was a kid too!" It's really nice to be remembered like that.
What have you struggled with most in your life?
My greatest struggle has been my education. I feel that I fell through the cracks. My teachers liked me, so I did my work in class, but never did homework. I ended up dropping out of High School, and have always regretted it! I would really like to get my G.E.D. I am very happy that our school district has so many things to offer our kids now, and so many ways to help them achieve their goals.
What lessons are important for future generations?
Stay away from drugs and gangs!! It's so easy to get wrapped up in both of them, and both of them will keep you from achieving goals that you don't even know you have yet!
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
I wish the kids would do their best, to not be involved in gangs! Try to make good decisions. I wish there were more opportunities for underprivileged kids to play sports. If they're involved in sports, or music, or art, or whatever their interests are, then they're not getting into trouble. They will be less likely to be at "the wrong place at the wrong time". I would like to see more grants available to help families with multiple children, and those struggling to pay. If I have the opportunity to encourage them to reach their goals, I am happy to help!
How do you decompress?
I decompress by going home and playing with my granddaughter. She is my world. Then I watch my Warriors, Giants and Niners, and sometimes even the Raiders.