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Story Tools

Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Sports

Dad Bob Slicker, grandmother Ellen Benjamin, Molly Slicker and grandfather Ross Benjamin pose in front of the limo upon their arrival to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Island girl gets up close, personal with Devil Rays

Eleven-year-old Islander Molly Slicker got up close and personal with several members of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when she got to serve as the honorary bat girl during the July 25 game against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field.

Molly got to meet and greet the majority of the Rays' players prior to the game thanks to a winning bid her grandparents Ellen and Ross Benjamin placed on a baseball package at the Anna Maria Island Community Center's "Affaire to Remember" annual auction benefit.

Molly will certainly remember this affair after a comfy ride to the game in a limosine before receiving her Devil Rays jersey, which was autographed by players like Jose Cruz Jr., Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Tino Martinez. Manager Lou Pinella even came over and said "hello" before putting his "John Hancock" on her jersey.

Molly got to sit in the dugout along with Devil Rays community relations assistant Erin Gornes and chatted with promising pitcher Dewon Brazelton.

Brazelton was very animated as he explained how Pinella makes him so nervous that he goes through three hats and a few jerseys because he sweats so much. After some prodding from Gornes, she also got to help herself to all of the bubble gum she could chew from the dugout supply.

Molly was joined at the game by approximately 25 friends and family members, including her mom, dad, grandparents and great-aunt Cookie Moffett, who really wanted her to get Aubrey Huff's autograph.

Molly, who will attend King Middle School starting next week, was pretty cool and collected despite some good-natured ribbing from father Bob and this writer, who warned her not to trip over the first-base line when she took the ball out to the mound immediately before the start of the game.

She pulled it off without a hitch though. She put the ball on the mound, turned and waved to the crowd as her name was announced and her image appeared on the stadium Jumbotron television.

The Rays might want to have Molly attend more games seeing as how they won 10-1 behind a complete-game pitching performance from southpaw Mark Hendrickson.

When asked if she played any sports, Molly said she likes going to sporting events, but hasn't played any sports since she played softball when she was little. She is "into" dance and drama and hopes to earn a part at the October auditions in one of the Riverfront Theatre's upcoming productions.

Molly, like most kids her age, is saddened that summer is coming to an end, but she is looking forward to football season and hopes to attend a Buccaneer football game at Raymond James Stadium. Seeing as how the Buccaneers games are consistently sold out, grandma and grandpa better get to work on that request early.

Register now for fall soccer
Registration for the Anna Maria Island Community Center's fall soccer season is under way from now until Saturday, Aug. 14, for prospective players ages 5 to 16. The Center has scheduled four "registration nights," all 6-8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, Aug. 3 and Aug. 5, and Monday and Friday, Aug. 9 and Aug. 13.

Registration fee for Center members is $40 for first child and $35 for each additional child. Nonmember fees are $55 for first child and $50 for each additional child.

Players receive a uniform, including shirt and matching socks, and must provide black shorts and shin guards. Shin guards are offered at the Center for $10 a pair.

Everyone who signs up is assigned a team, although mandatory tryouts will be held for each of the five age groups. Tryouts will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 16-20. Players ages 5-7 try out Monday for the instructional league and are followed by Division III, ages 8-9, Tuesday and Division II, ages 10-11 Wednesday. Division I, ages 12-13, try out Thursday, while Premier League players, ages 14-16, try out Friday evening. Players will be assigned to their division's teams immediately following each tryout.

Any players who are feeling a bit rusty after a summer of relaxation and vacation and can sign up for the Center's Soccer Camp 2004, which gets under way Aug. 11 and runs through Aug. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for Center members and $35 for nonmembers.

The Center is also looking for soccer coaches for the 2004 season. Sign up at the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, or for more information, call the Center's athletic director, Andy Jonatzke, at 778-1908.

Football players sought
The Anna Maria Island Community Center is still accepting registrations for the Anna Maria Dolphins football team in the Mighty-Mite and Flag divisions. Cost for the season is $60 for Islanders and non-Island residents alike.

Currently both teams are short by at least 10 players so any and all interested players are strongly encouraged to come on out for football.

After a 20-year void from youth football on the Island, the Anna Maria Dolphins have established themselves as a competitive program in the Police Athletic League's youth football league. Last year's varsity team went 5-5 and made the playoffs, while the 2002 junior varsity team went all the way to a Superbowl championship in only the second year of the program.

The Police Athletic League offers four age-weight divisions, including varsity, junior varsity, mighty mites and flag football, although the Center does not expect to have enough players for the two older divisions for players age 11-14.

Mighty-mite players must be age 8-10 and weigh less than 125 pounds, while flag players must be age 6-7 by Sept. 1.

All prospective players must provide a birth certificate to register. Sign up at the Center or call Center athletic director Andy Jonatzke at 778-1908 for more information.

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