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By Alex Lontayo – SportsForce co-founder

Baseball is an amazing game. For as long as I can remember, it has been an integral part of my life. I’m reminded of all that is has done for me everyday. I have pics of myself holding a ball before I was able to sit up unassisted or pics of myself dragging a bat before I was able to walk. The game was taught to me at an early age and helped me grow as a person. With the buzz about Parkview Little League’s run at the World Series (http://www.parkviewlittleleague.com/), I’ve found myself really looking back at my days back in little league and all the game offered me throughout my life. All of the opportunities I have been blessed with were through baseball. I see the passion that they play with and the camaraderie they have and it really hits home. That’s what you’d expect when they’ve been a TEAM for over 7 years. For most of those kids that’s half of their life. That’s when I really reflect on my life and what baseball brought me.

You see back in the day (no I won’t mention the long walks to school 10 miles away in the snow as most stories seem to go when sentences start that way), we were that team. Our team had been together for years and we were finally coming into our own. The problem with us was we didn’t complete the journey as they did. What we did do, was STAY friends from that time forward. Our group of guys went onto to play Pony, High School, College, Professional, even had a guy reach the big leagues. Those times directed us along the paths that we took. Each of us still live in the same area and, of course, still remain close friends. In fact, most of us would take a friend label as a slap in the face, since we’re all more like brothers.  Having brothers like that because of a game we loved is special. I’m sure there are stories all over the world about the friendships that were created from amateur sports. You never seem to let those times go. With all of the great people that I have been blessed with in my life because of baseball, there’s a deep reflection of what these kids will face in the coming years.

Teammates possibly going to different schools, guys not making the jump to the next level, whatever the circumstances, there will come a time when the next level will not be realistic. That is something that no player who loves the game ever wants to hear. The reality of the game is a tough pill to swallow. I truly believe that is a driving factor in the minds of all the SportsForce team. We’ve all been faced with that reality whether it was the high school to college process or the AA to AAA jump in professional baseball. There are times in your life that having the insight and experience there to help you, can drive your decision making in a manner that will better suit your long term goals. I know looking back; I wish I had more information about the process by friends who had been there. I’m not saying that my career would have turned out any differently, but I know the journey could have.

I can only hope that these young ballplayers will be guided the right way. I am a firm believer that you “always have a chance, when you put the uniform on.” You just never know. I’ve played against the David Eckstein’s of the world who wouldn’t let their size be a roadblock to their long term goals. I see a lot of that in these kids. I’m actually motivated more in my life because of what they’re doing. I look back at all my brothers, even sisters that I’ve played against and truly thank them for all of the memories. I hope every player in every sport that aspires for something greater gets that opportunity. Watching these kids play the game with passion and without a care in the world is special. I know there’s a great community rallying behind their every pitch and every swing. I know I am. Win or lose, these kids have succeeded. I hope they go on with their lives and keep these friendships to reflect upon when they’re my age, but give back to the game in any way they can. That way someday, the next group will experience it all again, with all of it made possible because baseball is an amazing game…

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