OCEANSIDE — More than 375 Little League players will be dressed in uniform and on the field for Oceanside National Little League Opening Day Feb. 22.
Teams will kick off the baseball season with an evening fundraising carnival and opening ceremonies at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
Opening Day festivities include a parade of players, cake walks, games and laser tag. Teams’ first games begin the following morning.
“We bring everyone together for a parade and to wish them well on Opening Day Friday night,” Mike Radermann, president of National Little League, said. “All teams play Saturday.”
The league coaches players from age 4-5 tee ball division to 13-14 junior division. Teams are co-ed through all divisions.
“We are teaching kids how to play baseball and build character,” Radermann said. “We’re trying to make them better people as well as better baseball players.”
The league strives to get everyone in the game. Special needs players are incorporated into teams that match their ability and age. When the game becomes too difficult for their skill level, special needs players are referred to the Oceanside Valley Little League challenge division.
“There is a big community spirit,” Radermann said. ”No kid is turned away.”
Radermann describes a winning team as “50 percent effort, 50 percent heart, perspiration and perseverance.”
“Kids playing with heart can win out kids playing with ability and skills,” Radermann said. “Their heart keeps them playing through diversity.”
Two teams that shined last year were the 11-12 team that won the District 70 Champions and the 13-14 junior team that won the District 70 Champions and Section 4 Champions.
“This is the furthest any junior team has been in 15 years,” Radermann said.
Oceanside Valley Little League, Vista America Little League and Rancho Buena Vista Little League will also be beginning their season in February. The season lasts through July.