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Golden times for LSTAA: Youth sports group wants a big turnout for 50th anniversary celebration

By David Barr, davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 4/12/17

By David Barr

davidbarr@pressandjournal.com

Baseball and softball have a common goal: The object is to come home.

That’s what leaders of the Lower Swatara Township Athletic Association …

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Golden times for LSTAA: Youth sports group wants a big turnout for 50th anniversary celebration

Posted

Baseball and softball have a common goal: The object is to come home.

That’s what leaders of the Lower Swatara Township Athletic Association want to see happen on Opening Day, Saturday, April 22, as the LSTAA marks 50 years of organizing baseball and softball leagues for Lower Swatara Township and Middletown youth.

There will be the usual bevy of Opening Day activities at Memorial Field in the Little Hollywood Recreational Complex off Longview Drive near Route 441.

However, there will be more this year. Anyone who was associated in any way in the last 50 years is invited. The association has managed to find four past presidents who will attend: Scott Dintiman, Frank Popp, Mike Starr and Craig Etter, according to LSTAA President Jason Wagner.

He added that the organization has lined up Dan Steele to be the emcee for Opening Day. Wagner said that Steele was “very involved” with LSTAA in years past, which is why he has been asked to do the emcee role.

“It’s an opportunity to bring the community together in a positive way,” Wagner said. “It’s an important milestone to recognize as a community.”

Organizers especially are looking for those who participated in the inaugural Opening Day activities in 1967 to attend. So far, they have not been able to find anyone from the charter year, but Wagner said they are still looking. The festivities won’t stop on Opening Day, as plans are in place for a commemorative patch to be a part of the uniform for the season. The hope is for each player to receive a sport bottle with the 50th anniversary logo on it at the end of the season to remember the anniversary.

This year, for baseball, there are three T-ball teams, three Ponies/Rookies teams, four Minors teams, and two Majors teams. For softball, there is one T-ball team, 3 8-and-under teams and two each for 10-and-under, 12-and-under, and 14-and-under. There also are two teener baseball teams. Wagner said that on average each team has 11 to 12 players and four coaches. 

In addition to Memorial Field, throughout the year, games will be played at Shopes Gardens Field, located at the intersection of Theodore Avenue and Nissley Drive; Woodridge Field, 870 Woodridge Drive; the high school softball field; and the Kunkel Elementary School field. Both Shopes Gardens Field and Woodridge Field are owned by Lower Swatara Township.

Ties run deep

Former President Scott Dintiman has seen the LSTAA from both sides, as he played from the time he was 8 years old until he was 15 and spent time as an assistant coach for about five years while in his early 20s.

This year will be his 17th year as a member of LSTAA, which includes time spent as a baseball and softball coach. Dintiman was president for the five years prior to Wagner, and he serves as the vice president of softball.

“To be here at 50 years, that’s pretty cool,” Dintiman said.

The association’s goal is to help participants realize their full athletic potential, while developing their character by teaching them life skills such as getting along with and respecting others, how to properly handle success and failure, and pushing themselves beyond their preconceived abilities.

It is that mentality, helping players to push themselves and come out of their shell, and see personal barriers broken, that has vice president of baseball Jeff Lawrence helping. His boys play for LSTAA and Lawrence says he couldn’t “be any more privileged” to volunteer his time.

“I just felt, honestly, like seeing these kids progress was maybe the most rewarding thing I’ve ever felt,” Lawrence said. “It’s such a good organization. I’m proud to be a part of it. For anything to last for 50 years is great and the fact that not only has LSTAA been around for 50 years, you’re talking about celebrating growth and here’s an organization that’s stable.”

He said the association plays a small part in making the area attractive for families to raise children.

“It’s basically a testament to the community itself already in the fact that it’s lasted 50 years,” Lawrence said. “Whenever you have a chance to have kids be around people that care about them and aren’t interested in them for other reasons, that shows you have people who are interested in their community. The community means more to LSTAA than LSTAA means to the community. The LSTAA exists because of a strong community and it’s lasted for 50 years and been successful and has grown because the people of this community have supported it. That says more about the community than it does the organization.”

Both Wagner and Lawrence say the association can continue for another 50 years, as long as baseball and softball continue to go strong across the country, and with the support of parents, coaches, and other volunteers and players.

“I still see plenty of growth in the future,” Lawrence said. “As long as we can continue to have people who give us support from a sponsorship level, as long as we can have volunteers and parents who continue to support our organization, as long as we have kids that want to come out and enjoy themselves by playing, in my opinion, the greatest game to play, I can’t see LSTAA slowing down.”

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