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Junior Giants still going strong in Sparks
by Aaron Retherford
Jun 20, 2013 | 1017 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Nico Nemeth, 7, participates in drills during Thursday night's Junior Giants program put on by the Sparks Parks and Recreation department.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Nico Nemeth, 7, participates in drills during Thursday night's Junior Giants program put on by the Sparks Parks and Recreation department.
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Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- City of Sparks worker Emily Carr helps demonstrate the proper technique of fielding a ball.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- City of Sparks worker Emily Carr helps demonstrate the proper technique of fielding a ball.
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The 5th annual Junior Giants Stretch Drive kicked off Thursday and will last until Sunday.

The Stretch Drive is inspired by Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey. The fundraising campaign was created in order to support the Giants Community Fund’s Junior Giants program.

The Fund is using the donations to continue providing a free, non-competitive baseball and life skills program for more than 20,000 children. For those who make a $50 donation, he or she will receive a Matt Cain bobblehead doll. That $50 donation will help one child play baseball this summer.

Donations can be made online or at the ballpark this weekend.

The Junior Giants Program provides a baseball program to underprivileged youths ages 5-18 who normally wouldn’t be able to afford playing baseball.

In Sparks, the Parks and Recreation Department holds its own Junior Giants Baseball program for kids 7-11 years old at the Oppio Park baseball fields on Tuesdays and Thursdays until Aug. 8. The program has been in Sparks for about 10 years.

All equipment is supplied and kids receive a Giants t-shirt and hat.

This summer, 54 kids signed up for the Sparks program. Sparks Parks and Rec does not turn away any kids who want to participate. There is one volunteer parent coach and everyone else is part of the City of Sparks staff.

“It gives kids who normally don’t participate in Little League, because it does cost money, a chance to participate in a baseball program that is 100 percent free to them,” said Cindy Brantner, recreation specialist for the City of Sparks Parks and Recreation department. “It’s sponsored by the San Francisco Giants, so all of our equipment and t-shirts are covered by the Junior Giants. The Sparks Sertoma covers our staff costs.

“It’s not just baseball that they learn. They learn about bullying. There’s a handbook that we follow. It teaches kids about teamwork and anti-bullying, stuff like that as well.”
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