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The Athletic Connection

The coach, Kent Wargowsky, is in his fifth season of coaching youth soccer. He and his wife, Kim, have three daughters: Hannah, 11, Olivia, 8, and Isabel, 6. While he was coaching the Hot Shots, Olivia was playing with her team at a different location. When the game ended, he hoped to zoom over to catch the end of her game. Often parents with more than one child alternate watching games.

The Hot Shots game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Fairfax Little League Yankees enjoy a moment with their coaches, including John Prosperi, center, and Craig Knoll, right, on opening day. Below, McLean Little League softball player Madeleine Giaquinto prepares to catch a ground ball in front of Lauren Sutherland during a game at the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., last year. (Photo Above Dayna Smith -- The Washington Post; Pool Photo Be)

"Okay, girls," Wargowsky said, "good game. I have snacks." He opened up a small cooler and took out packages of Oreos and Ritz peanut butter crackers, which the girls descended on like they hadn't eaten in two months. "There's juice boxes, too," Wargowsky said.

Wargowsky had taken time off from an all-day coaching seminar at Marshall High School to be at the game. He was packing a half-dozen or so soccer balls in a mesh bag as he spoke.

"It's so much different now than it was when I was growing up," said Wargowsky, a high school and college soccer player. "There are so many more sports for girls. It's great for them. The girls get a real sense of commitment that comes out of being part of a team."

Across town from the soccer fields, opening day for the Vienna Little League was well underway at George C. Yeonas Park. The Yankees and Colts were warming up for their first game of the season at Rhodes Field, one of three ballfields. The teams were made up of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds.

The field is close enough to the neighborhood that a high pop foul ball hit straight back would land in the back yard of the house next door. It is 200 feet to the left-, right- and center-field fences. It is about 210 feet dead center to a towering sound wall for Interstate 66.

Once the game began, Jack Reichert, 64, walked slowly to his usual spot in the first-base coach's box. He cupped his hands over his mouth as the first player dug into the batter's box. "Put the bat on the ball, put the bat on the ball," he shouted.

Reichert doesn't remember exactly how long he has been coaching the Colts. "I think it's 15 years," he said, laughing. "Maybe I'm getting so old I can't remember."

Reichert, retired from AT&T, has the lean build of a ballplayer and a sparkle in his eye when he talks about Little League baseball. He first got involved with the Colts when his son, Chris, now 24, was playing. His son advanced to Babe Ruth League when he was 13, but Reichert stayed with the Colts.

"When he went on to Babe Ruth," Reichert recalled between innings, "I said, 'He doesn't need daddy now.' And I just stayed around."

The Colts had a practice game against the White Sox a few nights before opening day. Lynn Mauer was there watching her son, Brendan, who plays for the White Sox. Her other children are grown; Brendan, 11, is the last one involved in youth sports.

"Oh, my gosh," said Mauer, "for us it's full time. I think it is for most parents. Between the practices and the games, there is something just about every night."

It was a big night for the White Sox. They were getting their game-day uniforms. Mauer helped several other parents organize the distribution of hats, game jerseys, windbreakers, turtleneck shirts and practice jerseys. The game was still in progress, but the boys were sneaking out of the dugout to get a look at their sparkling uniforms. "Boys, back in the dugout," one parent said.

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