From Athletics to AzCA

David Cuen grew up in a small town called Somerton, Arizona. He played baseball and basketball at Cibola High School in Yuma. During his senior season of high school baseball, David was named All-Arizona, recognition for the best 15 players in the state. He helped lead his team to the state championship and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pitcher in the 7th round of the 2001 MLB Draft following his graduation.

“It was still online back then, but that was when we had dial-up internet,” David laughed. “I would log on and then get kicked off every time I tried to check if I had been drafted, but it was a dream come true as soon as I finally learned Tommy Lasorda called my name.”

It was a real culture shock for David, going from a small town that he described as “slow and not a lot to do,” to Vero Beach, Florida where the Dodgers rookie ball team was placed in the Gulf League. At 17 years old, he moved across the country to chase his dream and play professional baseball. David had a great first year with the Gulf Coast Dodgers, where he finished with 4 wins and 0 losses!

“It was eye-opening… I got to meet a bunch of different people from different cultures. It was nothing new, it was just being far away from home in a city twice as big as my old one,” explained David in regard to his first Spring Training experience.

David played for about five seasons with different teams: the Golf Coast Dodgers, the South Georgia Waves, and the Staten Island Yankees. Unfortunately, after an arm injury, David stopped playing professional baseball and decided to continue his education at South Mountain Community College (SMCC).

Being the competitor that David is, he moved from baseball and began his collegiate sports career playing basketball at SMCC. David graduated with All-American honors from SMCC, and went on to play at Grand Canyon University where he earned All-Conference honors. David earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology and later received a Master’s in Public Administration.

After college, David spent a year playing professional basketball in 2013 with the Lechugueros before starting his career.

“When I was in school getting my Bachelor’s, I originally wanted to be a substance abuse counselor, but I transitioned over to working with youth. I felt that that was my calling, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” David expressed while talking about his transition from professional ball to Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA).

David has been working with AzCA for nine years. He started his career with our Young Adults Services as an independent living specialist. David later became a youth support specialist working with 15 to 20-year-olds, teaching them living skills and preparing them for life after foster care. Today, he is a program supervisor for our Behavioral Health Services and works with youth who have high needs.

“You know what, it was actually an easy transition. It was really smooth and almost like it was meant to be,” David remembers about his first year at AzCA. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a two-parent household. Unfortunately, a lot of the youth that we work with do not. I had a lot of friends that grew up in a similar situation with behavioral health needs, so it was very easy for me to be compassionate towards them and understand where they are coming from.”

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