Sports

Federal Way youth need more to do, coach says

Little League baseball is something every community has because it is something every community needs. Not only do kids enjoy playing the sport, but the sport enjoys teaching lessons in life.

Little League comes around at the perfect time in the development cycle of youth. The Little League hierarchy kicks off with tee ball at the age of 5 and runs until a kid basically enters high school.

A lot of things happen during those years — starting school, puberty and, most often, rebellion.

Little League fills the void even the best parent can’t. The team gives them a sense of pride and a feeling of belonging and responsibility.

J. Roberts takes that mantra seriously.

The head coach of the Federal Way American 12-year-old all stars, who finished in third place at the recent District 10 tournament, sees Little League as an important cog in a child’s life. And like 99 percent of the coaches in Federal Way’s three leagues — Federal Way American, Federal Way National and Steel Lake — Roberts teaches more than winning and losing.

“A team, player or parent should never be disappointed for any performance,” Roberts said following his team’s exit from the District 10 tourney. “Whether your team was a champion, won a few games or didn’t win any, each participant should be ultimately proud of their accomplishment.”

A refreshing outlook from a guy who has coached in Federal Way for the past 13 years and affected numerous young life’s in the process. In fact, Roberts and his three assistant coaches — Terry Gibson, Kevin Servis and Duane Walker — didn’t have any children on the team.

“We commit a lot of time and energy to this league because it is a great way to give back to the community and the kids,” Roberts said. “We have enjoyed the experience every year win or lose. We look forward to seeing all our players grow up in the sport and excel.

“I am really passionate about making this area a great place to live.”

One thing that would make Federal Way a better city to raise a family is to build the proposed community center at Celebration Park. The Federal Way City Council has budgeted $13 million toward the new center, which could include senior activities, a leisure pool with water slides, a rock wall, three basketball courts, a cafe and juice bar and a gathering room for banquets and other activities.

According to Roberts, the afterschool and summer activities in downtown Federal Way aren’t up to par with the city’s population of over 80,000. One step, he suggests, is for youth and parents to get involved, whether it’s Little League or something else.

“We have an incredible amount of talent but are unable to capitalize because of volunteers, money and fields,” Roberts said about Federal Way American Little League, which covers central Federal Way.

The answer?

“We need you all to get involved,” Roberts said. “There are very few activities our youth can get involved with in Federal Way and this is one area that will work to improve our community and our youth.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com.

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