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Family a Common Focus among 2008 Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree Teams

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 24, 2008) – Little League Baseball is full of parents who became involved in their local league by volunteering to coach. For those individuals, the 2008 Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree has provided an assortment of unique and priceless moments for themselves and their children.

Jackie Robinson West Little League coach Curtis Goodman. Left, with his son, Spencer
Stockton Southern Little League manager, Richard, left, with his daughter, Jessie
Holly Park Little League coach Tom Davis, right and his son, Cody

This weekend, those coaches/parents witnessed their children experience new things, such as plane rides, being away from home for the first time, and night games. On a personal level, the grown-ups also had the chance to be kids again themselves.

“We watch the Little League World Series on television every year, from start to finish,” Waymon Brown, a coach with Holly Park Little League from Los Angeles, said. “We see the kids run out on the field and rub the (bust of Howard J. Lamade, located in centerfield at Lamade Stadium) during the World Series games. When I got here, the first thing I wanted to do was run out on the field to rub the statue.”

Other parents, like Richard Sotelo, manager of the Stockton (Calif.) Southern Little League team enjoyed seeing his daughter, Jessie, meet children from outside the family’s normal group of friends.

“Seeing Jessie and the rest of the kids getting comfortable enough to step outside of their comfort zone, try new things, and interact comfortably with the other kids and other teams is really neat,” Mr. Sotelo said. “Usually these kids stay focused on their team or their league and here that’s not the case.”

Other adult volunteers fulfilled a dream when they arrived at Little League International.

Williams Haley, manager of Jackie Robinson West Little League, and father of Adam Haley, has a family connection to the Little League Baseball World Series.

“My dad was a coach during the World Series in 1983,” Mr. Haley said. “Being here as a coach for my son’s team, even though it’s for a different event, means a lot. We’re planning another trip back.”

“I was an athlete in college but I never traveled far,” Curtis Goodman, a coach with the Jackie Robinson West Little League from Chicago, Ill., said. “To see these kids, my son especially, getting the opportunity to take sports to the next level by traveling and seeing new places at such a young age is great.”

The kids, while very happy to have their parents as coaches, understand there is a bit of a different feel when their parents are involved. “I think my dad comes down on me harder than he does some of the other kids,” Spencer Goodman said. “He expects a little more from me, but I know it’s because he wants me to do my best.”

Regardless of who was more excited, Tom Davis, a coach with the Holly Park Little League, summed up the common theme of the Jamboree weekend.

“This is where the best of the best play,” Mr. Davis said. “Being able to watch everything on television and then be able to come here for this and experience everything Williamsport has to offer is really special. Its something we’ll both remember and talk about for a long time.”