First of Four State-Based Little League Urban Jamboree Events A Rousing Success
The first Little League Urban Initiative State Jamboree, sponsored by the Torii Hunter Project, was hosted by Belvedere Little League in Decatur, Ga., over Memorial Day weekend. Urban Initiative leagues from the state of Georgia and South Carolina visited the Atlanta suburb for the event held at Shoal Creek Park.
Marietta's Milford Little League defeated SALLY Little League from Columbus, 1-0, in the championship game of the 12-team event, which included Little League Urban Initiative teams from throughout the state of Georgia and one team from South Carolina.
“The Jamboree was very well received,” Carolyn Taggart, a volunteer with Belvedere Little League for more than 30 years and the event’s director, said. “We all had a wonderful time and received a lot of compliments. The children were very excited because most of them had never played a tournament-type game and never played in a park outside of their own park.”
The Little League Urban Initiative was created to provide opportunities for communities in metropolitan areas to reap the benefits of having Little League in their neighborhoods. This year, that mission is being enhanced by local Urban Initiative leagues hosting games between fellow Urban Initiative leagues.
“I am hoping other communities will choose to play Little League,” Mrs. Taggert said. “The kids had a ball and parents that were here at the Jamboree had a good time. When I talked to several of the managers, they said they had a great time because for many it was their first tournament experience too.”
For several years, the Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree welcomed Little League teams chartered through the Little League Urban Initiative to Little League International in South Williamsport, Pa., has been re-invented this year to provide local Urban Initiative leagues with an opportunity to host a competitive, state-wide Jamboree, exclusive to leagues participating in the Urban Initiative program.
The manager of the SALLY Little League team, right, from Columbus, Ga., accepts the runner-up trophy from Horace Beatty, Georgia District 3 Administrator, following the championship game of the inaugural Georgia State Urban Initiative Jamboree played in Decatur, Ga., over Memorial Day Weekend. Marietta's Milford Little League defeated SALLY Little League, 1-0, in the final game.
“Beginning in 2004, local leagues participating in the Little League Urban Initiative were invited to the annual Jamboree held on the Little League International complex,” Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, said. “Those events were successful and beneficial for the leagues involved. The primary goals of taking the Jamboree to the state level are to increase the number of youth from Urban Initiative Little Leagues that get to participate in a ‘tournament style’ event, and to better serve Urban Initiative leagues on a state-wide basis by giving local league members, coaches and players a greater chance to network and share ideas with each other.”
This weekend, Houston will welcome leagues from across Texas (June 4-6). Later this month, Chicago will host a Jamboree for Urban Initiative leagues from Illinois and Indiana (June 11-13); and Newark, N.J., will have teams from across the state and one from Philadelphia participating in its weekend-long event (June 11-13).
“The motivation behind extending the Jamboree concept to the state level is a matter of opportunity,” Mr. Ervin said. “Bringing teams to South Williamsport, giving them a chance to play on the World Series fields, and exposing them to Little League’s history and origin are all great, but we want to take the next step. The next step is recognizing those leagues that have embraced the Urban Initiative mission and allow them to show what a local league can do with the proper mix of resources, support and community involvement.”
The Torii Hunter Project, founded by the all-star outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is a comprehensive, long-term effort to impact youth in need in various parts of the United States. The project has four areas of focus related to youth: Sports, Community, Education, and Wellness.
At the Jamborees in Chicago and Newark, The Baseball Factory will conduct a skills clinic for all Jamboree participants.
The state-based Jamborees will take the place of the annual Little League Urban Jamboree that Little League International hosted over Memorial Day weekend.
Members of the Milford Little League team from Marietta, Ga., pose with the Little League Urban Initiative Georgia State Jamboree championship banner and trophy at the conclusion of the inaugural event played at Shoal Creek Park, home of Belvedere Little League in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur. Joining the team are, Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative (second from left in back row), Georgia District 2 Administrator Jeff Colwell (third from the left in back row) and Carlos Rodriguez, Milford Little League President, (on right in back row).