http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/03/15/pleasanton-sports-the-players-keep-coming


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 15, 2013

Pleasanton sports: The players keep coming

Demographers report that Pleasanton is fast-becoming a "mature" city, but the thousands of youths turning out for sports this year aren't following the same script. Mark Spiller, Pleasanton's Community Services Manager who has charge of all sports programs in the city, said 1,700 boys turned out last weekend for opening day of their Little League teams. Another 900 girls are expected tomorrow when the Pleasanton Girls Softball League starts its season. While those numbers aren't much higher than a year ago, they're record-high and there's no indication registration for youth sports is slowing down. In fact, with 3,000 high density apartments approved for construction in Pleasanton, it's likely many of the new tenants moving here will have children in the T-ball to 18-year-old senior baseball team categories and in other sports.

Besides continually growing numbers of youth players in city and school sports that now go year-round, the number and types of sports is also growing. Lacrosse, historically an East Coast/Ivy League sport until gaining strength here and other parts of California 10 years ago, now requires the sports fields at Hart Middle School (for boys teams) and Harvest Park Middle School (girls) part of the year. Soccer teams play in the spring and fall and the season is just staring for Pleasanton Junior Football, a league that's also setting new registration records.

Players here have the advantage of playing on some of the best-groomed and equipped fields in the Bay Area with the two new lighted baseball fields at Bernal Community Park, home to the Foothill Little League, fast-becoming a picture-perfect place to play and watch games. Another lighted diamond is at the Upper Fields on Bernal Avenue, with the American and National Little League teams playing on 20 more fields at Sports Park. Lighted adult fields at the Hopyard Road end of the park provide play now seven days a week for 185 business, churches and other teams that compete in adult softball, including fast-pitch and other tournaments on Saturdays.

About the only sport that hasn't yet caught on in Pleasanton is rugby, which has its dedicated players and fans but not yet the numbers to fill a field here. That is changing as more ethnic groups move to Pleasanton from countries where rugby and European-style football are favorites, so Spiller is taking note. As it is, he meets with the Pleasanton Sports Council, with representatives of all the sports clubs and with the school district to line up fields as each specific sports season gets under way. By the end of summer, all of Pleasanton's sports fields are allocated for the following year. New fields planned for Bernal Community Park in 2014 won't come soon enough for a city that loves its sports.

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