Sunday, August 20, 2006

Little Big League

Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Pedro Martinez, Edgar Renteria...they all started here...where the bat was over half their size...a throw from third to first rarely made it all the way...and innings usually ended by meeting the maximum run limit rather than by three outs. This is T-Ball and Rookie Ball, where the concepts of baseball are learned and the joy of the game is instilled in a child's heart. In between the muffed catches, the trips while rounding the bases or the daydreaming in the outfield, the skills of the game begin to develop and occasional feats of athleticism surprise and thrill parents and coaches.

The girls are not left out of the fun...Little League has equivalent softball programs for the young ladies aspiring to follow in the footsteps of Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza, Crystl Bustos or Lisa Fernandez to play for the U.S.A. National Team.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Road to Old Trafford

As most the soccer world was fixated on the road to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, U-15 club teams from around the United States had their eye on a different road that could potentially lead them to the historical grounds of the Manchester United Football Club, Old Trafford. Their ticket? Winning the U.S.A. finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup hosted on the Nike World Campus in Beaverton, Oregon.

During the Memorial Day Weekend, twenty boys and twenty girls U-15 club teams from throughout the U.S.A. battled for the honor to represent their country in the finals. For the boys, it meant a trip to Old Trafford in Manchester, England. For the girls, the finals were an invitation to the prestigious Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Oregon weather treated its guests to a variety of conditions...Traditional Spring downpours along with gorgeous sunny skies. The impeccably manicured grounds of the Nike World Campus provided excellent conditions throughout the weekend.

Ohio FC Mutiny from Dublin, Ohio won the honor over the Dallas Texans from Dallas, Texas in a penalty kick shootout after regulation play of the qualifying final ended in a 1-1 draw. In the ladies competition, So. Cal United from Thousand Oaks, California topped the Vardar Soccer Club of Rochester Hills, Michigan to earn a trip to Sweden.