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Enthusiasm Has Exceeded Expectations for Jamboree Participants

Enthusiasm Has Exceeded Expectations for Jamboree Participants

Following a full day of baseball on Saturday, players and coaches participating in the 2009 Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree are enthusiastic and looking forward to the special events planned for the conclusion of their time at the Little League International Complex.

Ten games were played throughout the day on Saturday at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, the sites of Little League World Series games; at Carl Stotz Memorial Field, near the location of the original Little League games; and at two standard-sized fields on the complex. More games are scheduled throughout the afternoon and evening Sunday, and a special instruction and skills competition was put on in the morning by the Baseball Factory, an organization whose goal is to teach kids the skills necessary to make it to the collegiate level.

The instruction included one-on-one time between players and representatives from the organization, which is in its first year of affiliation with Little League. On the field, players got first-hand training on the fundamentals of fielding, throwing and pitching.

Score is kept at all games, which will take place on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., but no champion will be declared at the weekend’s close. The games have matched up teams from across the United States, and the players have exceeded their own expectations.

“I didn’t know what to expect when we got out here,” Mitchell Henderson, assistant coach of Memphis Little League, said. “I watch the Little League World Series on TV, but I would never have dreamed that our kids would be playing on the actual field that the World Series is played on. It’s been an incredible weekend so far. Right now, we’re undefeated and are playing pretty good ball.”
“It’s been just wonderful,” Keith Bibbs, an umpire from Memphis Little League, said. “My favorite moment was last night playing 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.’”

For many of the players and coaches who have come from across the country, one of the most exciting aspects of the weekend has been the facilities and surroundings of the Little League International Complex.

“My kids personally are great kids, but I’ve seen kids from all the other cities get better too,” Memphis Little League manager Nathaniel Bogan said. “But the most important thing, I think, is to enjoy the scenery. I’ve been coaching for 30 years both football and baseball, and this is the most beautiful picture I’ve seen in my life.”

“In Tampa, they don’t have mountains like this.” Alex Ramos, a player for Skyway Park Little League, said. Following tonight’s games, players, coaches, umpires and Jamboree staff will meet at Lamade Stadium for a closing ceremony, and in the morning teams will begin leaving the complex to officially finish the sixth annual Jamboree.

“This event is meant to be an eye opener for these kids to let them know if they work hard they can get to where they want to be,” George Vargas, Manager of Lancaster Recreational Little League, said. “It’s not just a dream anymore. Kids can say they’ve been here when most kids can’t. It’s a perfect place, and now they know they can get here. It gives them hopes and goals with baseball if that’s what they want to do.”

2009 Jamboree 21