From June 19-21, the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy hosted its first ever Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree. The tournament featured teams from the District's Mamie Johnson and Southern District Little Leagues, as well as Frederick, MD, and York, PA Little League. The Little League Urban Initiative aligns with the mission of the Academy, as it seeks to actively promote recruitment and retention for inner-city-based leagues through training and education programs.
Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond woke up early on Saturday to meet with kids from all of the teams. Desmond, who serves on the Academy's board of directors, signed dozens of autographs, said a few words of encouragement to the players and their parents, and even played catch with one lucky young man. Demiko Ervin, Director of Little League's Urban Initiative, was also in attendance for the event, and his appreciation for the Academy was palpable. He lauded the Academy as one of the "finest facilities" he has seen.
Charlie Sperduto, manager of baseball and softball programs at the Academy said, "the Urban Initiative tournament is a great representation of how the Academy is becoming a regional hub for youth baseball." Sperduto also added that the Academy staff is eager to have the event become an annual summer program at the complex.