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Aurora Health Care

Lakeland School kids realize baseball dreams


Dream Team a popular league for athletes of all abilities



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A Dream Teamer hustles to third base with assistance from a volunteer. Jade Bolack.

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This Dream Teamer prepares to score on the next play. Jade Bolack. (click for larger version)
July 23, 2013 | 01:36 AM
LAKE GENEVA — It was just like any other summer league baseball game.

There were coaches telling kids to hustle and focus on the ball, teammates cheering and over protective moms.

For a couple of hours, all kids were equal on the diamond.

Ten years ago, John Swanson helped create the Dream Team summer league for athletes of all abilities.

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In the first season, there were only 10 players. This season, there are 72.

Mainly from Lakeland School, the players compete against other YMCA summer league teams.

Swanson said he first created the league because he realized there wasn't a place for them.

"Have you ever been out here (to Veterans Park) during the games?" he said. "The kids are yelling and having a great time. I wanted that for the kids at Lakeland."

Along with Swanson, a group of volunteer coaches staff the league.

Jeff Sonn, a coach and parent, has been with the league since the beginning.

"Kian (my son) was in the original group," Sonn said.

"The kids really love it. They have a pep rally in the spring at the school, gearing up for it."

Sonn pitched during the dream team games on July 15.

"The league lasts about five weeks in the summer," he said. "We spend a few weeks practicing. Then we play a few games against the other YMCA league teams. It gives other kids a chance to play with these kids (on the Dream Team). They really love it, too. They get into it like any other game."

A group of 48 high school and middle school students volunteer with the league.

"They put in 1,000 volunteer hours," Swanson said. "That's a lot of work."

Sonn's 11-year-old daughter, Odessa, helps on the diamond, too.

"These games have been going on since I was born," she said. "I've been here and started helping when I could."

She ran the bases with Courtney Jaeger, who said she was too focused on the game to talk to a reporter.

Jaeger is on the same team as Odessa's brother, Kian.

"I just met with Courtney and started helping out," Odessa said.

Both Sonn's wife, Tracy, and his other son, Julian, help out with the teams, too.

"It's a family thing for us," Sonn said. "It's an amazing thing. We look forward to it all year."

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