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The Athletic Connection

A woman on a cell phone walked by. "We're down here," she said into the phone, an indispensable device for youth sports parents. "Where are you, up by the batting cages? Can you see me? I'm wearing bright red pants." A minute later, her phone partner appeared at the practice field -- a pizza delivery man, both arms loaded with pies in insulated carrying cases. Dinner had arrived.

A couple of days later -- opening day -- the Colts were back on the field playing a game that counted. In the bleachers, a girl was wearing her soccer uniform.

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)

You never know whom you will meet in the bleachers. Fairfax County is home to many movers and shakers in the U.S. government, and their kids play soccer and Little League. There are no VIP seats.

Congressmen sit next to plumbers and watch their sons and daughters play. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of Fairfax Station has coached his grandnephew at basketball.

The Colts got off to a rocky start, falling behind 3-0. They came back and tied it up. The game ended up going extra innings,with the Colts coming out on top, 9-8.

Between innings, Reichert talked about all the kids he has seen come through the league. "It's very rare that you see a child who has been involved with Little League get into trouble later on," he said. "When they leave here, they are only 12 years old, and then you see them turning into young men. And a lot of them still come back to watch a game now and then."

It was time for the Colts to hit again. Reichert walked slowly back to his customary spot in the first-base coach's box.

The first hitter stepped up. Reichert cupped his hands over his mouth. The sun was high in the sky. The buzz of traffic from I-66 was blowing in from dead center. You couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.

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