Name: Andy Lojo
Occupation: Geologist, environmental consultant, president of El Cerrito Youth Baseball
Are you a Bay Area native? I was born and raised here. My grandparents moved to El Cerrito and bought a house on Pomona in 1922. My dad grew up here with his brothers and sisters. I grew up in Richmond and now I live in Kensington. My youngest son goes to and my oldest son goes to .
Does your family have memories of El Cerrito back in the day? My aunt tells me the most about it, and I talked to my grandparents, too, before they passed away–just how open and rural it was. I don’t know when it started building up. There are old aerial photos where their house was built at the same time as two others, and that was it on Pomona Avenue from like 1922 to 1934. It was a lot different—dirt roads.
And how are you involved with baseball in El Cerrito? I’m the president of the league—El Cerrito Youth Baseball. This is my fourth year on the board of directors and my second year as president. I played in ECYB when I was a kid. I always loved baseball, but when we got married and had kids and they got to the right age, we enrolled them in ECYB. The oldest is 14 right now, and this is his last year, second-year pony division—which is full-on baseball, the big field over at . He started playing when he was 10. I joined the board a couple of years after and just sort of kept moving into more and more work. Now I’m the president.
We have a board of directors–there are eight people on the board and every year they elect somebody to be president. This is my second try.
Is it a lot of responsibility? It is. It’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of work. We have 366 kids . It's about 28 teams. It’s a lot of work but it’s very rewarding; the work that I do benefits all of those kids.
Is it all volunteer-run? One hundred percent volunteer. It’s a non-profit corporation. I think it began in the ‘50s. It’s interesting—we’ve got articles of incorporation just like as if it were a business, definitions of roles—so it is sort of run like a business even though nobody gets paid. It’s run like a corporation would run, with a board of directors, and then we elect officials and assign jobs. My biggest challenge is getting volunteers to fill those jobs so myself and the few others on the board don’t have to do it all. If you find people that have done something well and they’re engaged, you just ask them to do more and see if they’re interested.
It’s really taught me the value of community service. It’s really something where you do all the stuff in your life primarily for your family, you get a job and support them, but this is another way to give back to the community. And it’s fun.
Does being a part of the league make you feel a bigger part of El Cerrito? What I like now—this is my sixth or seventh year in the league with my kids, and each year, you split up the teams, you reshuffle all of the kids, and then watch them grow up. I probably know at least half of those kids by first name now, and that’s just great. I know their parents and where they go to school. My son’s opponent tomorrow was probably his teammate last year or before, it really makes it seem like a small community. It is a small community.
Anybody that’s done sports, especially team sports, realizes that there are so many things that you learn about how to get along with people, about how to succeed in life, that you don’t get in school. I like having a chance to influence kids development that way and show them if you really practice, and practice, practice, practice, you’re going to get a hit—sooner or later you’re going to get it.
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