During the last full week of July, the 2014 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.
Dion Bryant from West End Little League in Trenton, N.J.; and Ajani Belnavis of Banneker City Little League in Washington, D.C., received free tuition to the Little League Baseball® Camp in South Williamsport, Pa.
“We’ve been offering the scholarship for five years, and I feel it has provided a positive experience and opportunity,” said Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative. “All of the leagues in the Urban Initiative program are invited to nominate players for the scholarship. The winners are chosen based upon the nominations. The scholarships are made possible by donations to the Urban Initiative.”
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.
“I’ve had a lot of fun this week,” said Dion, 10, a catcher and shortstop for the Indians. “My coaches have been great. They’ve been telling me to never give up and always hustle. I’ve learned, that when I run, I need to stay off my heels, and to keep my head down and keep two hands on the bat when I’m hitting.”
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.
“Just being here is awesome,” said Ajani, 11, an outfielder for the Tigers. “The practices and living in dorms is fun, and the food is great. The best part is playing the games … I feel just like I’m in the World Series.”
Little League® Baseball and Softball has conducted summer youth baseball camps at the Little League International complex for more than 50 years.
Ajani Belnavis, left, of Banneker City Little League in Washington, D.C., and Dion Bryant from West End Little League in Trenton, N.J.; received free tuition to the Little League Baseball® Camp in South Williamsport, Pa. The pair took part in camp from July 21-25. The Little League® Urban Initiative Baseball Camp Scholarship has been offered to players in Urban Initiative leagues since 2010, and is open to players from any of Little League’s five regions in the United States.
“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.”
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.
The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating with more than 220 leagues in nearly 90 cities in the United States. In its 15th 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: facebook.com/LittleLeagueUrbanInitiative.