If you’ve been following the construction progress of the East Airfield Park on Dowden Road, adjacent to the Water’s Edge neighborhood in Lake Nona, you’ve probably noticed that lights are up, the grass is down, and the field looks more like a baseball diamond. It’s no longer much of a stretch to imagine kids playing games there.
Come spring, Lake Nona Youth Sports will join forces with South Orlando Babe Ruth Baseball and Softball to bring those two sports to Lake Nona’s kids, ages 4 to 18, with the potential of playing games at the new field.
“South Orlando Babe Ruth has had an outstanding program for more than 35 years, providing youth baseball and softball for the South Orlando community,” says C.R. Dunnavant, president, Lake Nona Youth Sports. “For the past 10 years, Lake Nona Youth Sports has provided football, cheer, wrestling, rowing, and lacrosse programs, so it’s an exciting time for us to partner and now offer baseball and softball.”
South Orlando Babe Ruth plays its games at the Southport Baseball and Softball Complex, located just south of McCoy Road and Jetport Drive. Because the organization has a long history of success in Central Florida, their leagues fill up quickly, serving more than 500 players.
“Many families want their kids to play baseball and softball, so when they discover our program is inexpensive, well organized, and competitive, with a long-term positive history of serving the community, we quickly reach capacity,” says Roger Tamborlane, president, South Orlando Babe Ruth. “But we also want to continue to grow and support the incoming Lake Nona players, so we welcome the opportunity to expand into additional fields being developed around Orlando.”
Tamborlane believes the partnership will provide new options to Lake Nona’s young athletes. “By working together, we can spread the word to families about the sports programs that are available for their kids to try,” he says. “Lake Nona Youth Sports and South Orlando Babe Ruth have a common goal of providing sports opportunities to Central Florida kids to help them stay healthy and learn valuable life skills from every sport they play.”
Both Lake Nona Youth Sports and South Orlando Babe Ruth operate through the efforts of dedicated volunteers. Roger started his involvement with South Orlando Babe Ruth as the parent of a player, then moved into the roles of head coach, T-ball director, and now president of the league.
“I still coach a T-ball team because I love it, even though my son has moved on to the older age group,” Roger says. “I’ve been a part of this organization for more than 15 years, and many of our board members are still with us even after their kids have aged out of the program. Some of our volunteers now have their grandkids playing with us.”
Lake Nona Youth Sports and South Orlando Babe Ruth welcome new volunteers to help coach and fill board positions, especially as both organizations expand to offer additional sports opportunities. “We couldn’t provide our athletes with such an outstanding youth sports experience without our volunteer coaches, board, and parents who generously give their time and talents,” Roger says.
Registration for the spring baseball season is just around the corner and, along with Lake Nona’s young athletes, the entire community is looking forward to the grand opening of East Airfield Park’s four ball fields, spectator bleachers, and shaded concession area to enjoy baseball games.
“I know Roger and I are both anticipating this exciting partnership and the opportunity to provide baseball and softball to kids in Lake Nona,” C. R. Dunnavant says. “Together, our organizations will be supporting more than 1,000 kids who are eager to play sports.”
Valerie Sisco lives in Lake Nona and is the author of the blog, gracewithsilk.com.