At a recent practice session, the Bartow unlimited fields were abuzz with activity. Football coaches were stressing fundamentals to new and returning players. Cheerleading coaches were refreshing routines and offering new exercises for their charges. On the perimeter, parents were watching the activity.
It was a typical practice night as the organization prepares for the upcoming season. There has been a lot of work already done, but there is a lot that remains to be done.
Bartow Unlimited president Terry Lewis called parents together for an informational meeting to set the stage for what was ahead. Lewis has extensive experience with the league, but has assumed the presidency for the upcoming season. A handout was given with as much information as parents could ask for. It was very thorough with the schedule, addresses of away games, times, locations for participant physicals, complete contact information for coaches, board members and team moms and fundraising information. At the end of the meeting, everyone was quite clear on what was happening with their child’s activity.
Bartow Unlimited is part of the Polk County Youth Football League. The teams will play five home games (at Bartow High School) and five road games with 2013 opponents including South Lakeland, Polk City, Fort Meade, Lake Gibson and Auburndale. There are five age divisions for football.
Joining Lewis on the 2013 board of directors are vice president Ken Devore, secretary Sylvia Barker and treasurer Stephanie Schultz. Rachel Dominguez is the fundraising coordinator.
During the meeting, Schultz spelled out the league expenses in detail, stressing that the organization has a large commitment that includes field rental insurance, trophies, uniforms and other necessary expenses. She also stressed that the team strives to keep registration fees low to encourage participation. Fundraising becomes a key element in the team’s success.
A fundraising schedule was passed out to the parents in attendance. Three spirit nights are planned with the first at Gator’s Dockside in Highland City on Sunday. The annual discount card fundraiser is now underway. The organization will be selling cards that offer discounts at area businesses for a year. These $10 cards include dozens of local merchants and can pay for themselves in just a few visits. The cards are available for public purchase from any parent or through the organization. The goal is to sell at least
700 cards. There are baskets being raffled and additional funding will be raised at home games through paid shout-outs and 50-50 raffles.
“We’re going to make things better this year,” said Lewis at the conclusion of the meeting. “It’s going to be a lot more fun for all involved. This program is your program. It’s for the kids.”
Bartow Unlimited held summer-long registration sessions, but potential players and cheerleaders not involved are welcome to participate. Future players can be signed up at the practice field located at the Bartow High School complex along Jackson Street. Additional information can be obtained by calling Lewis at 863-698-3927.
Dixie Youth Update
Weather has been a predominant factor at the 2013 Dixie Youth Baseball AAA Florida State Tournament in Freeport. Saturday’s schedule went off without a hitch, but rain delayed play for over four hours on Sunday and nearby lightning suspended action on Monday night.
The Bartow squad started off on the right foot by blasting Holmes County 22-3 in the opening. On Sunday, they faced off against Spring Hill American, coming out on the short end of a 14-7 game.
The loss put Bartow into the lower bracket and set up a Monday afternoon game against Port St. Joe. Once again, the Bartow offense and superb pitching forced a shortened game with Bartow on top 11-0. Austin Breeden hit two home runs and Jonathan Vastine added an inside-the-park home run. Rainier McKinzy and Sammy Sloan combined to throw a no-hitter to eliminate their opponent.
The winners of lower bracket games were forced into a second game on the same day. At press time, Bartow was leading Sebring when a Monday night storm suspended play.
Bartow must win out to stay in the competition. The final game is scheduled for Thursday.
Bartow’s Dixie Boys, champions of District 7 play last month, will finish preparations for their trip to the Florida State Tournament. The activity starts Saturday as Bartow meets up with West Seminole in the 12-team tournament to be played in Sebring. A win in the state tournament would send the team to the World Series in Seneca, South Carolina.