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The Lost Are Found (by Ariel Gans)

dunes2The Lost Boyz baseball teams returned from a camping trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Chesterton on July 9, where they enjoyed hiking, swimming, kayaking and catching frogs.

Lee Smith, coach of the 13 – 15 year old girls softball team, is accustomed to dedicating her weekends to softball as she has done for the last four years.  “It takes up majority of my life. My daughter plays as a pitcher. I ‘eat and sleep softball,” said Smith.

But on this weekend, she hung up the cleats and put on her hiking boots. “It was a very good experience,” Coach Smith said. “We went hiking, swimming, kayaking, and the kids caught frogs and named them.”

She and executive director of Lost Boyz Inc., LaVonte Stewart are already thinking about the upcoming play-offs in late July and early August.

“Right now, me and Lavonte are gonna put our heads together and basically combine the older kids and pick the best out of the best,” Smith said.

Our reporters also caught up with the Mrs. Fransene Rockman, lovingly referred to as the matriarch of the league. She shared a bit about the trip. “We did some hiking, and we were entertained by a baseball game, the score was 11-9. We went swimming, did some grilling, some photo taking, and found some frogs.”

Mrs. Rockman has been a long-time fixture with Lost Boyz and she has a very strong attachment to the organization, especially the young people. “This program is awesome! My grandson has been in the program since he was eight, and it’s the best decision that I made for him. Even if he wasn’t a part of baseball he’d still be doing something positive,” said Rockman.

When we snagged Reds catcher for the 9-12 year old boys team, Brandon Dupart, he just wanted to talk about baseball—a game he has played baseball since he was eight-years-old.

“I wouldn’t love anything better than to go Pro,” he said.

11-year-old starting pitcher for the Lady Bolts, Nakasha Smith, began playing softball because of her mom two years ago. “At first it was just something to keep me busy,” she said. “Now I love it—except for the frogs.”

Lost Boyz Executive Director, LaVonte Stewart Sr. reflected on the experience, as well. “This is the second year of our camping trip. We want to provide experiences for our players and their families that go beyond the field of play and that can be enriching in other aspects of their lives,” said Stewart. “We go to museums, plays, and other culturally diverse settings that help prepare the players for life off the diamond,” he said. “We believe it is important for us to help grow our kids mentally and intellectually so that they can be well-rounded and useful to the community. There is more to this life than baseball—but baseball is our jumping off point,” stressed Stewart.

Stewart said he wants to include more trips like this so that parents and players can bond and enjoy each other’s company. “This is a family and we want to encourage family engagement,” he said. We hope the J-Team can be there next year to cover the trip in person.

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