The American Junior Golf Association mourns the loss of Larry Berroya, a former intern, tournament director and regional director. He died April 1 after injuries sustained in a car accident.
Berroya earned his bachelor’s degree in history from U.C. Berkeley and law degree from Columbia after his family immigrated to California from the Philippines when he was a child. He passed the bar exam and worked as a clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, as an associate for the firm of Morrison and Foerster, and as a Federal Public Defender.
The young attorney one day called Executive Director Stephen Hamblin with a unique inquiry: he was interested in a new full-time job.
"Larry wanted to change career paths and work in a sport he loved," Hamblin said. "I told him our internship was the way in. He wanted to negotiate, as a good attorney would, and he ultimately decided to redirect his career and start over, fully committed as an AJGA intern.
"After the summer, we hired him full-time to run events and he did a great job serving our members and building relationships. Ultimately, his passion for people helped us establish the foundation for today’s Regional Director program.”
During his tenure as an employee, Berroya built relationships with junior golfers and their families and opened the AJGA’s first satellite office in California. He helped expand the schedule in that region to best serve the membership especially in the Golden State, which was then and still now represents the bulk of AJGA members.
Friend and former colleague Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana grew up playing AJGA events on the West Coast and returned to run them before accepting a similar role with the USGA.
“Any junior golfer who played AJGA from 2006-2010 on the West Coast would know Larry,” Tangtiphaiboontana said. “He built so many lasting relationships that carried on long after his time as an employee. Of the 25+ West Coast events I worked with Larry, I fondly remember him doing what he could to give our staff the full experience: Jamba Juice in the morning, In-N-Out Burger for lunch and Cactus Coolers in HQ.
“Larry was a dear friend and part of a small group of former staffers that has stayed close over the last 10 years. Regardless of where we were in the world, or in our lives, we made it a point to get together in person at least once a year. Larry never missed a single trip.”
Jeremy and Dana Freyman directly credit Berroya for resetting the course of their lives (with nine years of marriage and two children) by serving as their matchmaker.
“One life lesson I'll carry with me from Larry is not to be afraid to pursue your passions in life,” Dana Freyman said. “I was flabbergasted to learn someone in their mid-30s left a successful career in law to become a junior golf intern. Our intern team shared an exciting, hard-working, traveling summer together and it was one of the best experiences of my life. What I've learned years later is that Larry had it right. I'm in awe of the guts he had to pick up and leave what was comfortable to find what was meaningful. I hope I will never forget that.”
Berroya’s work with some of the best junior golfers in the nation solidified his true purpose in life: to become a teacher.
He pursued a master’s degree in education at Stanford and taught for several years in Oakland and the San Francisco area.
At the time of his death, Berroya was a humanities teacher at Gateway High School. He recently won the title of #1 Super Fan for his support of the student-athletes in all sports, a sideline regular at home and away contests. In a post on the school’s Facebook page, 'Mr. B' was both expected to win the contest, and did, by a large margin. He spent many other nights and weekends at school fundraisers and debate trips.
Outside of the classroom, Berroya was a runner and a writer. He loved food and finding great restaurants (and their top-notch desserts). He was passionate about poker, was a dedicated Cal fan, and had the loudest voice at sporting events he attended.
“Larry was one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met, and truly had an impact on everybody around him,” said Casey Ceman, former AJGA staffer and current COO of the ANNIKA Foundation. “As a mentor and friend, he will be missed for his companionship and his ability to change young people’s lives.”
A zoom memorial is being held on Tuesday, April 7 at 7 p.m. PST, and an in-person funeral will be scheduled at a later date.