Kids taking a swing at fresh starts

first_img I stopped by the Woodland Hills campus Monday to visit with the Pacific Lodge Boys Home championship softball team, which had just been awarded $5,000 from the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles to buy new sports equipment. The foundation may be the best thing that came out of the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. Surplus revenue from the Games has been used to buy equipment for needy and troubled kids. Those worn baseball gloves the Pac Lodge Sluggers used this season and the plastic ones handed out to kids on Glove Night at Dodger Stadium were finally going in the trash. So were the lopsided softballs, ripped T-shirts, and holey tennis shoes they wore during their undefeated, championship season. They were going to get real uniforms and new equipment. “Before I got here, I had never been on a sports team of any kind,” said David, 17, who’s been at the home for six months. Team sports just weren’t on the neighborhood agenda where he lived. Both David and Steven knelt at home plate and smoothed out the dirt the team had picked up from Dodger Stadium earlier this year. Magic dirt, some say. “The Dodgers were putting new dirt in their infield and we asked if we could use some of the old dirt for our field,” said Larry Flowers, a counselor at the home. Flowers and a few of the players drove down to the stadium in the home’s old pickup truck and loaded up the red clay Dodger dirt. You would have thought they were bringing home gold. “The boys were so excited to be putting in dirt used in Dodger Stadium on our old softball field,” said Kristin Sanders, associate director of development. “It made them feel special, and that’s something most of these kids have never felt before.” Now, nobody’s saying Dodger dirt was responsible for their undefeated season, but there was some magic going on that old softball field at the home. “We came together as a team, which is something none of us ever did in our old neighborhoods,” Steven said. “I guess that’s why we’re here, to learn new things, and turn our lives around. Do some positive things for a change.” Learn what cheering, not yelling, sounds like. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 It’s called cheering, son. Steven’s a member of the Pac Lodge Sluggers, which went undefeated in 12 games this year to win the championship of the Placement and Group Home League. Never heard of it? Not too many people have. I’d like to tell you the full names of the players and show you their faces, but that would be against the law. The kids playing in this league are all juvenile wards of the court. They’ve either done something wrong or had something wrong done to them. Most grew up in tough, inner-city neighborhoods, where a good day meant getting home in one piece. The kid swung the bat as hard as he could, then watched stunned as the softball flew over the center fielder’s head and landed on the dirt running track. A home run. He sprinted to first base, still holding the bat as the crowd began to yell. How was he supposed to know he should drop the bat and take his time running the bases? They didn’t play softball in the tough L.A. neighborhood where the kid grew up. So you couldn’t blame the kid for stopping at second base and wondering what he’d done wrong. “It was the first time in my life people yelled at me for doing something right,” said Steven, 17. last_img read more

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