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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2009 > May - August > The Sixth Annual Urban Initiative Jamboree Comes To a Close Amongst Cheers of Achievement, Admiration

The Sixth Annual Urban Initiative Jamboree Comes To a Close Amongst Cheers of Achievement, Admiration

The Sixth Annual Urban Initiative Jamboree Comes To a Close Amongst Cheers of Achievement, Admiration

2009UI Closing Ceremony

The 2009 Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree concluded Sunday evening, with players, coaches and fans alike thrilled about their experience at the Little League International Complex in Williamsport, Pa.

More than 150 participants arrived at the home of the Little League Baseball World Series, anxious to play on the same fields where world champions are crowned each summer.

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By the time the final outs were recorded, the 10 teams participating had played 18 games at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, the sites of World Series games; at Carl Stotz Memorial Field, near the site of the first Little League games ever played; and at two other standard-sized fields on the complex.

The event was described by many as a dream fulfilled not only by players, but also by the parents, coaches and umpires who made the trip with them.

“It’s been just wonderful,” Keith Bibbs, an umpire from Memphis (Tenn.) Little League, said. “My favorite moment was Saturday night game at Lamade Stadium. Just being at the place where the championship game is played, I took a walk around the whole outfield just looking at it. I had to take a deep breath before that first pitch and say, ‘OK, I’m actually doing a game here.’”

The Jamboree included more than just games. On Friday night, players and coaches were greeted by Tony Richardson, Little League’s New Jersey State Director, who gave a presentation entitled, “Breaking Barriers, In Sports, In Life,” which uses nine values created by Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson to help children overcome challenges.

On Saturday, Mr. Richardson, who has been an avid collector of Negro Leagues memorabilia since 1995, also presented his assortment of signed bats, baseballs, cards and posters at the Little League Museum to commemorate the legacy of Mr. Robinson and other Negro League greats.

The Baseball Factory, which announced a partnership with Little League Baseball this past March, put on a special instruction and skills competition on Sunday morning for players, who were given one-on-one training in the fundamentals of fielding, throwing and pitching. Aside from the games, these special events helped fulfill the Urban Initiative’s goal to help children learn and appreciate skills that can help them succeed on and off the field.

While most of the coaches expressed their own excitement about getting the opportunity to come to the Little League International Complex, many players were just focused on the game.

“Really, it’s not even about the fields,” Josef Overton Jr., a player for Skyway Park Little League, said. “It’s about a chance to play teams from across the country that we can’t back home.”

The Jamboree included teams from 10 cities: Tampa, Fla. (Skyway Park Little League); Lancaster, Pa. (Lancaster Recreational Little League); Jersey City, N.J. (Jackie Robinson Little League); Houston (South Central Little League); Detroit. (THINK Detroit PAL Northwest Little League); Dayton, Ohio (First Dayton Little League); Syracuse, N.Y. (Inner City Little League); Atlanta, Ga. (South Fulton Little League); Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Little League); and Seattle (Seattle Central Little League).

“This is an unbelievable, amazing experience for my son,” Brian Hingle, whose son Brandon plays for Memphis Little League, said. “This was my dream when I was his age. He is probably just like me, where it’s just now sinking in what actually went on here. He had the most fun in his life, and he is learning a lot.”

After all games and special events had been completed Sunday, coaches, players, parents, umpires and staff came together at Lamade Stadium on last time to officially conclude the Jamboree.

At the closing ceremony, which ended with a standing ovation for all the participants; all players, coaches and umpires were given medals and a commemorative Jamboree video.
“Bringing the kids back home with this experience, hopefully they learned a whole lot from seeing these other teams out here,” Kadabe Ranson, a coach with the First Dayton (Ohio) Little League, said. “A lot of these kids like baseball, but they don’t love baseball. What I’d like to gain from this is keeping these kids focused on playing baseball.”