NEW YORK (NNS) -- The Navy sponsored the 16th Annual Hispanic Games at the Armory New Balance Track and Field Center in New York City Jan. 9.
More than 5,000 student athletes of diverse backgrounds representing more than 250 high schools from the Northeast region competed in the nation's largest indoor track-and-field event.
According to Dr. Norbert Sander Jr., executive director of the Armory, the annual event pays tribute to the community of Washington Heights, a predominate Hispanic community.
"This is a great opportunity for our student athletes to become acquainted with the terrific programs the Navy offers to high school graduates," Sander said.
"They have a chance for an appointment at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. or receive a first-rate college education with all expenses paid and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), where most college expenses are paid at over 160 participating colleges and universities across the United States."
Sanders said the Navy day at the Armory is an exciting event that combines the great spectacle of high school track and field with an interest in one of America's great national institutions.
Reserve Deputy and Chief of Staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet Rear Adm. Robin M. Watters, was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at the Hispanic Games. He talked about why diversity was important to the United States Navy.
"Our country is diverse. As a Navy we are a reflection of the country, thus we ought to be diverse with respect to the kind of people that come into the Navy," said Watters.
This was the first event of the year for the Navy's Diversity Directorate. Future events include mentoring programs, leadership training conferences, job fairs and events that correspond with national observances.
"Academically, these are the very best students that play any sport in high school across the country," said Larry Rawson, track and field commentator for the ESPN network for the past 30 years.
Lawson said that, from an admission's office standpoint, colleges across the country are interested in these students because of the discipline and goal setting they demonstrated throughout the year.
Daniel Zamora, a 17-year old from East Meadow High School in Long Island competed in the long jump and 55-meter dash.
"I play football and use this event to keep in shape for the football season," he said. "It's also a good way to fill up my schedule."
The Navy Diversity Directorate's mission is to provide Navy leadership with the tools and resources to help create and sustain a cultural awareness that values diversity and an environment where every individual prospers and contributes to the mission.
For more information about the Navy Diversity, visit http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/Diversity/.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.