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Kennedy Park Little League crowded but marveling at its rebirth

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- The fields are not exactly pristine, the park is not nearly big enough for all the teams, and the older-division baseball clubs cannot play at night anymore because termites gnawed through the light fixtures.

It's almost heaven for Frances Oliver and the rest of the Kennedy Park Little League board of directors. Yes, much improvement is needed, but for the first time in a year, KPLL is fielding a league, and for the first time in two, it should be financially able to send all-star teams to district play in July.

"I think it all has been pretty smooth," Oliver said. "Especially considering we are running this from the ground floor up. It's like we were reborn."

Representing Kennedy Park in District 15 means another $900-$1,200 will be needed for organization uniforms, said league business manager Dan Oliver. Somehow, he said, KPLL will get them.

Dan Oliver said revenues from the park concession stand will help, but the league has to pay the county department of parks and recreation 17 percent of sales.

KPLL currently outfits 14 teams -- in 9-12 softball and baseball, and 13-and-older baseball -- and plans to expand next year. Every current team has been sponsored by a local entity, including the Jerome Brown 99 Eagles, the 9-12 boys front-runners sponsored by the Jerome Brown Foundation.

For coach Calvin Brown, cooperation and coordination has been crucial and surprisingly forthcoming.

"You definitely have to compromise," he said. "They set up a practice schedule for certain teams, and we got some volunteers together and cleared some land so we could have extra space to practice.

"I take my team and practice there and give up our day to let girls softball or someone practice."

Oliver said he has been amazed how 14 teams have squeezed onto two fields.

"Some days it's looked like chaos, but the coaches made me proud," he said. "If they can find a spot in the corner, they use it. That's the joyful part, seeing them taking time like this to mold young lives."

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