By Tate Luckey–

For a lot of students at the University of Louisville, some are just a short drive from campus to get back home. Others live a city or state over. For a select group of student-athletes, though, that expands to a whole other country. 

Recently, U of L established the “Los Cardenales”, a group of Latinx and Hispanic students that mainly hail from countries and territories south of the border, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The group’s sponsor, Monica Negron (who is from Puerto Rico and played lacrosse for the university), emphasized that the group’s goal is to connect with other Hispanic/Latinx student-athletes. They’re the first Hispanic/Latinx athlete group in the ACC.

“It’s all about awareness. The only challenge is that being a student-athlete, their lives are crazy,” she explained. “Whether it’s just them connecting with each other over something they didn’t necessarily know like about the different countries [they’re from], or proposing that the meetings be bilingual or just Spanish or just in English; that’s kinda the beginning of some of the stuff we’re working through,” she said.

The group currently has about 10-20 members, and senior swimmer Santiago Aguilera is in charge of recruitment. “I go out to other teams, introduce myself, and ask if there are any Latino student-athletes with any type of Latino heritage that wants to join, and I recruit them. As Latinos we are taught to love others and be there for others so we are the most loyal friends you can find; we will stand by you and do things others are not willing to do for our friends and family,” he said. 

Strong familial bonds carry a lot of weight in those who have Latinx/Hispanic backgrounds.  “Since we find ourselves around 500 miles (or more) away from our families, we come together on campus to form our own family that we can come to and listen to reggaeton or do some Latinx foods that remind us of home,” junior Argentinian golfer and president Augustina Cisterna said.

“We just share a very strong bond with each other also since our culture is being very affectionate and caring towards each other.” She was part of those who formed the Cardenales last year, after texting Negron asking if a club like this existed on campus.

If students want to be an ally that is an option too- the only full requirement for the Cardenales is that they have to have to be a student-athlete. 

Some upcoming events for the Cardenales include a mentorship program with Newburg Middle school students who share a similar heritage, and joining with the Porter Scholars on their upcoming panel on Colorism (October 15th).  If you’re interested in finding out more, you can do so here

Photo courtesy by // Los Cardenales