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Big league dreams

August 23, 2005|by JOHN SLICK

They play on small fields tucked in inconspicuous woods or school gyms instead of Camden Yards or Madison Square Garden. Their uniforms are emblazoned with American Legion Post 593 instead of St. Louis Cardinals or D.C. United.

It doesn't matter to the players. They play once or twice a week, with dreams of making the pros. They are the many players of local summer youth leagues, playing basebal, soccer, basketball or golf.

They dream of being the next Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan and narrate their fantasies alone, their game against Bob's House of Ribs transformed into Game 7 of the World Series.

A lot of the players that grace the fields of sold-out stadiums got their start in the same places as these hopeful dreamers. Stars like Ivan Rodriguez and Tiger Woods started playing their sports at an early age.

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Of all the summer youth sports leagues, Little League baseball is the most recognized. It is so popular that ESPN broadcasts Little League World Series games for pretty much all of the next two or three weeks. However, baseball is not the only sport played in summer.

Summer basketball leagues at the YMCA and soccer leagues at Hagerstown Community College are popular.

These soccer leagues are our highlight. Jaimie Bingaman and Morgan Holmes both take part in these leagues.

Jaimie is 15 years old and will be a sophomore at Boonsboro High School. She has been playing soccer for 10 years, and also plays basketball in the winter. She says that summer soccer "gives me something to do when I'm bored and gets me ready for the regular season."

Morgan is 14 years old and will be a freshman at Boonsboro. She has been playing soccer for nine years; she also swims. She says she enjoys summer sports.

"They're fun and they give me something to do other than sitting around on the couch and getting fat," she says.

However, sports also are about the competitive spirit and teamwork that make them so popular. Luke Michael, 14, from Boonsboro, plays baseball and basketball. He says that playing these sports give him a sense of determination and teamwork. He says that he wants to be a member of the CIA or FBI, and that the qualities gleaned from playing sports now will most certainly help him to succeed, provided his professional sports career doesn't work out, he says with a laugh.

Luke says that he'll never forget some of the experiences he's had playing youth sports. During one basketball game, he made two three-point shots with 10 seconds left on the clock to give his team the win and make him the hero.

That's the stuff of dreams.

This summer already is winding down, but it's never too early to look out for next year's summer leagues. Keep an eye out for registrations at your local Little League, AYSO, or YMCA to take part in these sports. Your cheers and generous donations can help keep a summer tradition alive.

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