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Play Ball Summer Initiative Encourages Fun, Fitness for Arlington Youth
By Krystal-Rose Agu
Posted on June 20, 2016, June 20, 2016

Participants in Saturday "s District Little League Baseball Tournament had more than friends and family on the sidelines cheering them on.

Before the young athletes took the field at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Complex in southwest Arlington, Mayor Jeff Williams and other city leaders offered their own little pep talk.

"Welcome to Arlington, home where champions are crowned," Williams said to a crowd of young baseball players and visitors before initiating a proclamation that recognized the months of June, July and August as "Play Ball Summer."

Play Ball Summer is an initiative by the U.S. Conference of Mayors supporting Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and USA Baseball "s goal to provide opportunities of play throughout communities in America. The initiative focuses on the fun nature of baseball and involves mayors from all across the country hosting similar events to encourage children to be active during the summer months.

This event marks the City of Arlington "s first-time involvement, said Angie Summers, Senior Management Analyst.

Williams threw the first pitch starting off a game between 8- and 9-year-olds at Blue Fields.

Melanie Steele, Arlington resident and mother of 9-year-old Slade Steele, the starting pitcher for the Arlington Southwest Little League "s team of 8- and 9-year-olds, sat in the shade of the stands and said the most important part about attending the Play Ball Summer event was watching the children live their passion.

"This is their dream: to be an all-star baseball player," Steele said.

Steele said her son is set to play against his cousin, and that the children "are going to be very competitive."

For the young athletes, baseball not only encourages a healthy and active lifestyle, but pushes them to achieve other goals in their life.

Steele said baseball motivates her son to make good grades, which directly influences whether he can play on the field.

Baseball "keeps them busy, keeps them focused and keeps them driven," Steele said.

Mayor Williams, who once coached his daughter toward three city championships at the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Complex, said the family event speaks to the character of the Arlington community and encourages kids to exercise in a fun way.

Mayor Pro Tempore Sheri Capehart and Councilwoman Victoria Farrar-Myers also attended the tournament and offered the athletes encouragement before the start of their game.

Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Complex, play ball summer
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