Starting next year, children in Briarwood will finally have a chance to play officially sanctioned Little League baseball.
The Jamaica Estates-Holliswood Little League, long a youth athletics staple in Central Queens, is expanding, and will forthwith be known as the Jamaica Estates-Holliswood-Briarwood Little League.
At a press conference at P.S. 117 in Briarwood on Friday, May 15, State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) joined local community, Little League and school leaders, along with numerous young ballplayers to announce the expansion.
“This is a great opportunity for Briarwood children to hone their baseball skills on the field and learn about good sportsmanship and team work — values that they will carry off the field the rest of their lives,” Lancman said, after opening the press conference with a spirited rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Among the values learned in youth sports, he said, were “fair play” and how to “win magnanimously and lose graciously.”
In anticipation of next year’s season, Lancman also announced an upcoming, free baseball clinic for Briarwood children, sponsored by his office, to be held June 21, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John’s University Baseball Field. (Children 5-13-years-old are eligible; the clinic is open to the first 100 children to register; more information: 718-670-7128.)
Seymour Schwartz, president of the Briarwood Community Association, which is co-sponsoring the clinic, said it was a “great way to introduce Briarwood kids to the wonderful world of baseball.”
Schwartz noted that it was not enough for children to watch television and spend time on the Internet. “It’s just as important to stretch your mind and build your body.”
Frank Connolly-Weinert, member of the board of directors for the Little League, asked the young ballplayers present how many of them had seen Major Leaguers David Wright, Jose Reyes, Derek Jeter or Johan Santana in action. Hands were raised excitedly.
“Were they always as big as they are now?” Connolly-Weinert asked. “At some point, they were little. … You may be the next Jose Reyes. How do you do that? You get out on the field and play.”
Assistant Principal Dr. Barbara Kendall, of J.H.S. 217, located just across the street from P.S. 117, supported the effort. “The social skills you develop on the fields are important when working together inside the classroom,” she said.
Lancman announced that his office would be sending registration schedules to Briarwood parents this fall. Parents will at that point be able to register their children for the spring of 2009.
Once the season begins, games will be held at the cluster of ball fields located at 73rd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard, in Cunningham Park, in Fresh Meadows.