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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2013 > January-April > Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Winners Enjoy Fun Experience at Little League® International

Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Winners Enjoy Fun Experience at Little League® International

Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Winners Enjoy Fun Experience at Little League® International

Urban Initiative

This summer, three Little Leaguer®s from cities across the U.S. got to go camping, Little League® style. During the last full week of July, the 2013 Little League Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship winners enjoyed a trip to Little League International and the opportunity to improve their skills and make their own memories.

Michael Ortega from Thunderbird Little League in Albuquerque, N.M.; City of Angels Little Leaguer® Richie Fant from Los Angeles; and Steven Manfredi of Van Nest Little League in Bronx, N.Y., received round-trip transportation and free tuition to the Little League Baseball® Camp in South Williamsport, Pa.

“We’ve been offering the scholarship for four years, and I feel it has provided a positive experience and opportunity,” said Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative. “When I pick them up at the airport to bring them to Williamsport, they are full of questions, but when they get here, I think it is more than they expect.”

All leagues in the Little League Urban Initiative were invited to nominate up to three players for the scholarship. From that pool, the winners are chosen based upon the nominations. The scholarships are made possible by donations to the Urban Initiative program.

“I was surprised by what I’ve seen during camp,” said Richie, 12, a center fielder and pitcher for the Pirates. “The talent and skill of the other player is really good. I know I’ve gotten better coming to camp and like playing on the World Series fields.”

“The players are better than what I’ve seen in my home league,” said Michael, 13, a pitcher and first baseman for the Reds. “I will be playing Little League again next year and everything I have seen this week has made playing baseball more fun. This has been a great experience for me.”

Each player looked forward to games at Howard J. Lamade and Little League Volunteer Stadiums, but playing ping pong in the recreation hall, spending time in the swimming pool and meeting other Little Leaguers has rounded out a special time for each of them.

2013 US Scholarship Winners

Michael Ortega, left, from Thunderbird Little League in Albuquerque, N.M.; City of Angels Little Leaguer® Richie Fant, center, from Los Angeles; and Steven Manfredi of Van Nest Little League in Bronx, N.Y., received round-trip transportation and free tuition to the Little League Baseball® Camp in South Williamsport, Pa., as part of the Little League Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship Program. The group is joined by Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative.


Steven, an outfielder and pitcher who was Richie’s teammate on the Pirates, said that throwing from the World Series mounds was lot of fun and he really liked the coaches. “I’ve been working on my pitching and the coaches helped me be more confident,” he said. “Playing the outfield was an experience. There’s a whole lot of room out there.”

All aspects of the game, including hitting, pitching, fielding and base running, are covered by the camp instructors and counselors. A typical day, for the overnight camps, begins at 7 a.m., and includes a full day of baseball and other activities, concluding at 10 p.m.

“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 playing opportunities were limited,” said Mr. Ervin. “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.”

Little League Baseball® and Softball has conducted summer youth baseball camps at the Little League International complex for more than 50 years.

South Williamsport offers a day camp, in addition to five consecutive weeks of six-day, overnight camps. Campers train, play and are housed in the same facilities used by the 16 Little League teams who play in the Little League Baseball World Series each August.

“I think the players come here and are a little shocked they are able to play on Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums,” said Mr. Ervin.

The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating with more than 220 leagues in nearly 90 cities in the United States. In its 14th season, the Little League Urban Initiative has stimulated the participation of 4,000 teams, approximately 52,000 players, and has participated in more than thirty field renovation/development projects.

For more information on Little League’s Urban Initiative, contact Mr. Ervin, at: dervin@LittleLeague.org; or call 570-326-1921. More information on the Little League Urban Initiative is also available on the Little League web site at: LittleLeague.org; or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/LittleLeagueUrbanInitiative.