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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2011 > May-August > Little League Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Recipients Revel in Chance to Visit Williamsport, Play on Championship Fields

Little League Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Recipients Revel in Chance to Visit Williamsport, Play on Championship Fields

Little League Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Recipients Revel in Chance to Visit Williamsport, Play on Championship Fields

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A trio of Little Leaguers, who are playing baseball through their home league’s participation in the Little League Urban Initiative, are enjoying the rewards of receiving scholarships to Little League Baseball Camp.

Jordan McCoy (Lancaster, Pa., Lancaster Rec. Little League); DeAndré Smith (Peninsula Little League, Portland, Ore.); Ruben Jimenez (Thunderbird Little League, Albuquerque, N.M.); and Donovan “D.J.” Bentley (South Fulton Little League, Fairburn, Ga.) each were nominated by their respective leagues. Ruben was unable to attend camp due to an injury, but the three players who did attend each said they’ve had a great time.

“It’s been a lot of fun playing ball here,” 12-year-old DeAndré, who played for the Yankees Baseball Camp team, said. “I’ve made some good friends and hope to talk to them in the future. I knew it was going to be exciting to come here to play, but it’s been just as fun meeting a lot of new kids and coaches.”

“I’ve had a lot of fun, and gotten to play on the same field as Japan (last year’s World Series champions),” Jordan, 12, who played the outfield for the Mets while at camp, said. “I’ve learned a couple of skills, but the best part has been the food … It’s a lot better than at my school.”

For more than 10 years, the Little League Urban Initiative has created opportunities for children in urban and metropolitan neighborhoods throughout the United States to play Little League in their communities.

Earlier this year, DeAndré, Jordan, D.J., Ruben and hundreds of other children from Urban Initiative leagues were given the opportunity to tell Little League International what playing Little League meant to them, with the reward being a trip to Williamsport for a week of instruction at Little League Baseball Camp.

“Since the Urban Initiative program was created, its primary goal has been to make the benefits of participating in Little League available to children in places where green space and playing opportunities were limited,” Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, said. “We, as an organization, have seen the impact that the Little League program has had on urban neighborhoods throughout the United States, and this scholarship now gives us the means to provide a wonderful experience to the players who are benefiting from their participation in Little League.”

Scholarship winners are selected and receive the trip to the home of the Little League Baseball World Series, along with full room and board for the week-long camp.

Only players in leagues that are participants in the Little League Urban Initiative are eligible for the scholarship. Each league may nominate up to three players (league-ages 10-14 only), and each nominated player must submit an essay of 300 words or less, describing what playing Little League means to them.

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Three Little Leaguers, who are playing baseball through their home league’s participation in the Little League Urban Initiative, are enjoying the rewards of receiving scholarships to Little League Baseball Camp at Little League International. From left to right, DeAndré Smith (Peninsula Little League, Portland, Ore.); Jordan McCoy (Lancaster, Pa., Lancaster Rec. Little League); and Donovan “D.J.” Bentley (South Fulton Little League, Fairburn, Ga.) each were nominated by their respective leagues. Ruben Jimenez (Thunderbird Little League, Albuquerque, N.M.; not pictured) was unable to attend camp due to an injury. The three recipients attending camp, joined by Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, are the second class of scholarship winners.

“I was so happy when I got the baseball camp letter in the mail,” DeAndré said. “It made me feel good about myself. When I got here my mouth dropped and my tongue was hanging fully out of my mouth.”

“I was so glad when I found out I’d be coming to Williamsport, that I was jumping up and down in my mind,” 11-year-old D.J., a self-proclaimed slugger and teammate with DeAndré on  Summer Camp Yankees, said. “I expected the stadium to be super nice, and it is, but I was amazed how big it was. This week, I’ve learned a lot of stuff.”

Each of the players said that this week’s experience was great fun, and the memories and friendships will motivate them to continue playing baseball even after they graduate from the Little League program.

A component of Little League Baseball and Softball, the Little League Urban Initiative began in 1999 with programs in Los Angeles and Harlem, N.Y., and expanded to other cities in 2000.

The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating with more than 200 leagues in nearly 85 cities in the United States.

The Little League Urban Initiative provides assistance packages for eligible leagues that aid the local volunteer group with equipment acquisition, capital improvement cash grants, field development and renovation, access to Little League Baseball and Softball education and training programs, advocacy, and networking.

For more information on the Little League Urban Initiative, contact Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, at 570-326-1921, ext. 245; or e-mail: dervin@LittleLeague.org. To follow the Little League Urban Initiative on Facebook, log on to: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/LittleLeagueUrbanInitiative