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Play Ball!
by Garrett Valenzuela
Apr 01, 2013 | 5115 views | 3 3 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Members of the Expos team removed their caps for the National Anthem during the Opening Day ceremony for the Sparks Centennial Little League on Saturday at Golden Eagle Regional Park.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Members of the Expos team removed their caps for the National Anthem during the Opening Day ceremony for the Sparks Centennial Little League on Saturday at Golden Eagle Regional Park.
SPARKS — The familiar smell of Opening Day grass may not have been wafting through the artificial turf-laden fields of Golden Eagle Regional Park, but Sparks Centennial Little League was very much in Opening Day spirits Saturday.

Thousands of parents, volunteers and supporters came out to the opening ceremony, kicking off another season for Sparks Centennial Little League. Steven Howe, president of the league, said the work of many volunteers led up to a successful opening ceremony.

“A lot of people think baseball just happens on its own,” Howe said via phone Monday afternoon. “Most of the volunteers in the Sparks Centennial League have been working since early October with the goal of getting to that Opening Day. Anywhere from five to 25 hours a week are spent individually by every one of our volunteers. We have had a lot of arguments and differing opinions, but everyone got on the same page and came together in mid January to achieve the things we needed to get done.”

Howe said a total of 1,003 players had signed up for the season, ranging in age from 4 to 16. Howe said seeing the numbers continually rise from year to year — growing from 375 total kids in 2007 — keeps motivation high among the volunteers and coaches who bring the league to the summit of local Little Leagues.

“I think what it really says is that our volunteers are doing the right things and that our coaches are well educated and teaching the game the right way,” Howe said. “Past presidents from top to bottom have followed the foundation Mike Wurm set, which was integrating every kid into the program and creating a culture to be sure every kid has an opportunity to play.”

Howe said the addition of two new fields at GERP will help ease the congestion problem the league has faced in coordinating practice times. Howe said Sparks Centennial will work diligently throughout the year to keep the fields at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex in playing condition, and the league will look to capitalize on a new snack bar at Golden Eagle.

“We are really excited to have the snack bar out at Golden Eagle because it gives us the ability to do more things and generate revenue which we have been missing,” he said. “The biggest focus is the snack bar out there to generate revenue so we can give something back to Golden Eagle, like batting cages or something for kids.”

Even after seeing the more than 3,000 people come out for the Opening Day ceremonies, Howe said he is most excited to get the kids out on the field and get the games underway. He hopes to see even more parent interaction this year in addition to showcasing the talents of local youths while supporting the Sparks Centennial League.

“Once the games get going, I love seeing the scores roll in and the parents interacting in the stands,” Howe said. “Everyone makes new friends every year. I am also really excited about the inter-league deal we have in May and I am anxious to see how we fare up against Reno and Washoe leagues. Our families travel to those different games and represent Sparks really well.”
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Former board member
April 06, 2013
When Steve came to the board we all thought he was crazy to think the league could get to 500 kids. Well, we were wrong! I went out to eat at 3 different restaurants last week and each was packed with baseball family's, Sparks owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Howe and Lee Gorris for standing side by side fighting some difficult fights to make SC the pride of Sparks in youth sports.
April 02, 2013
Love the picture Garrett!! It wasn't that long ago for you, story is great too!
Tom Goins
April 01, 2013
I was at the ceremony and I was really motivated by what this young man had to say. He seems to have a strong support staff to grow and maintain this growth. It was a great day with a lot of laughs and plenty of small town appeal. The Mayor seemed to be having a great time as well.
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