Fort Bragg youth kick off spring sports season
Members of the Braves Intermediate baseball team take the field Saturday during the Parade of Teams at the 2010 Fort Bragg Youth Sports Spring Opening Season ceremony at NCO Academy Field. The ceremony marked the beginning of the Youth Sports spring baseball, softball and soccer seasons.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - An audience of more than 300 Family members, friends and fans joined various softball, baseball and soccer teams to kick off the 2010 Spring Youth Sports competitive season in a ceremony at Fort Bragg's NCO Academy Field.

The season-opening event marked the beginning of youth teams with names like the Tarheels, Jumping Unicorns, Tornados, Hot Wheels, Green Beans, Sluggers, Lazers, and D.C. United.

Saturday morning the participating athletes varied in age and size as they represented their team in the Pre-School League (age 4), Instructional League (ages 5 and 6), Mitey Mite League (ages 7 and 8); Junior Co-ed (ages 9 through 11), Intermediate League (ages 12 through 14), Senior Intermediate, which features children ages 15 through 17.

Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Sicinski opened the ceremony by having every athlete on the field stand up and repeat the Olympic oath as their pledge for good sportsmanship and great competition. Dan Ahern, director of FMWR programs served as emcee for the ceremony, which also included a parade of teams. During the parade of teams, each team marches onto the field and took its place before the podium, after being introduced by Youth Sports director Terri Jo Campbell-Brown.

She said the event marked the beginning of a period of good competition and healthy activities for those who participate.

"It helps them find a healthy lifestyle, with obesity as it is with our youth today, this gives them an outlet. They have fun while they're getting exercise," Campbell-Brown said, following the event.

The youth sports program provides various opportunities for the athletes who participate, but it also gives something to its volunteer coaches.

First year coach Darwin Frett, of the White Sox Junior baseball team, said participating in the Youth Sports program provides an opportunity to spend more time with his son, Darwin, who plays on the team.

"I wanted to participate with my son after a year-long deployment," Frett said. "I said I was going to come back home and spend some quality time with the Family."

In addition to spending time with his son, Frett said he wants to educate his players also.
"I want to give them an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the game by having experience with the different positions," said Frett, who is a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. "But most importantly, I want them to have fun."

It's awesome," said the younger Frett, about having his dad as a coach in his first year playing baseball. "I'm looking forward to playing catcher."

Kevin Russell, Jr., 14 of the D.C. United Soccer team said he looks forward to competing against his peers and defending last year's championship title.

"I'm looking forward to this season. We did good, we won the championship last year," Russell said. "I'm looking forward to repeating this year."

He said also looks forward to his role as a team leader who will, hopefully, lead his team to victory.
Kevin serves as an inspiration to his younger brother Cory, who is playing in his third year of youth soccer. Cory said he wants to follow in his brother's footsteps.

"He's kind of like a pro and I want to be a pro some day," he said.

The Russells have made this year's youth sports season a Family affair as their father, Kevin, also coaches the team.

"There are a lot of folks who are deployed right now and we want to help out as many folks as we can because I would want someone to do that for me when I'm deployed," he said. "They're kind of like that father figure when you can't be and that will allow the kids to have fun and learn something about the game."

Third year player Felix Garcia, 14, and his sisters Aizalyn, 12, and Alexzha, 9, all participate in soccer. Felix's team finished second to Russell's in last year's championship. Felix said he and his Hurricanes teammates look forward to more than just returning to competition.

"I look forward to winning the championship this year," he said.

Aizalyn said volleyball is actually her favorite sport, but she remains active in the off-season by playing soccer.

"Last year, I think we won all of our games except for two," Aizalyn explained. "The most fun about this is hanging out with friends."

Alexzha said for her the best part was actually being on the field and playing.

"I like being all around the ball," she said. "That was the most fun."

Page last updated Fri April 23rd, 2010 at 09:43