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League waits for fields of dreams

The Holiday Little League is growing up.

Sometime in late spring or early summer approximately 500 boys and girls who have crowded onto two fields at Oak Ridge Park in Seven Springs will move to four fields at the new Holiday Recreation Complex behind the Gulf Trace subdivision.

"It has been a nightmare with only two fields for all those kids," said Holiday Little League president Barbara Riefner. "We've had to start games at 8 on Saturday morning and often, kids had to stay up late on week nights for games.

"Now we will have twice as many fields and the facilities will be brand new. It will make a world of difference."

The Holiday Recreation Complex will also include four soccer fields, three tennis courts, two three-wall racquetball courts, an outdoor all-purpose court and a recreation building with an indoor basketball court.

But the complex was specifically built with the Holiday Little League in mind, said Pasco County Parks and Recreation director Nils Hallberg.

"The park was built with the understanding that Holiday Little League would move over there," Hallberg said. "The two fields at Oak Ridge just could not accommodate them.

"It will be a wonderful facility with first-class ballfields."

Construction continues at the park and grass was recently planted. Hallberg said it will take several weeks for the grass to take hold; the park should open by summer, he said.

The Holiday Recreation Complex is being built with money from a $13-million bond referendum Pasco voters approved in 1986. Money from the same bond issue was used to build the Fivay and Land O'Lakes recreation complexes and 11 other parks countywide.

Among those scheduled to open soon are the Starkey Wildness Park near River Crossing and the Hercules Aquatic Center in Zephyrhills.

At 8,300 acres, the Starkey Wilderness Park, which is expected to open before Labor Day, will be the largest county park in the state. It will include an equestrian trail and 13.5 miles of nature trails. The park will also have overnight camping sites and picnic shelters.

The Hercules Aquatics Center will be home to a 275,000-gallon junior Olympic sized pool, a nature trail and picnic shelters. It is scheduled to open March 7.

Construction on other county parks financed through Community Development Block Grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is also under way.

Among those are the Anclote Gulf Park on Baileys Bluff Road (north of the Florida Power Corp. plant) and the Samuel W. Pasco Recreation Complex in Zephyrhills.

Samuel W. Pasco, set to open in late spring, will include ballfields, nature trails and a playground. The Anclote Gulf Park, which will open in late spring or early summer, will feature a boardwalk available for fishermen.

"It will be a fisherman's paradise," Hallberg said. "This is an exciting time for us. Pasco has grown from this sleepy little county into a huge urban area and we have planned our parks to match that growth. I think a lot of credit should go to our county leaders."

While the Holiday Recreation Complex is being completed, the Holiday Little League will begin play at the Oak Ridge facility as it prepares for the move to the new park. Riefner said the league hopes to build an equipment room at the park and install scoreboards and other equipment at a cost of about $48,000.

To help raise funds, the league will hold a dinner and dance with a 1950s-60s theme March 21 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Holiday. The cost is $7.50 per person. Riefner said the Knights of Columbus is donating the hall and International Catering will supply the spaghetti dinner, so all proceeds will go the league. Call Riefner at 934-2043 for more information.

Swimming: Individuals from New Port Richey's Pasco Aquatic Club performed well at two major meets in recent weeks.

Six-hundred-forty swimmers from 42 teams participated in the Florida State Championships at the Long Center in Clearwater this past weekend. Three PAC swimmers placed in individual events.

Kimberly Rumble finished first in the 10-under age group 50-yard breaststroke in 38.11 seconds. She placed second in the 100 breast in 1:24.24.

Kim Enright placed second in the 11-12 division and broke a PAC record with a 29.60 in the 50 butterfly. The time broke a PAC record that stood since 1984 when Tracey Zahn posted a 29.93. Enright also placed second in the 100 fly in 1:06.07.

Jimmy Battista took first in the 50 breaststroke 11-12 division with a 33.82. ("That's faster than any of my high school boys," said PAC coach Linda Stewart, who also coaches the Gulf High team.) Battista also finished first in the 100 breast in 1:17.18.

At the Lakeland Family YMCA Winter Open in Lakeland Jan. 24-26, PAC finished second in Division II (teams with less than 25 members).

Kevin Rumble was first overall in the 8-and-under division with 41 points. Battista was second overall in 11-12 with 30 points. Kimberly Rumble was third overall in 10-and-under with 35 points, while Enright was third overall in 11-12 with 26 points.

"Kim (Enright) would have had first easily but we put her in all senior events," Stewart said. "You only swim 200s in senior events, and we wanted her to do the 200 back and the 200 fly."

Five PAC five swimmers have qualified for the Junior Olympics: Kim and Kevin Rumble, Battista, Abe Stewart and Annie Stewart. Enright is about to turn 13, and thus will have to make a 13-14 cut to qualify. The last chance to qualify for the Junior Olympics will be at Clearwater this weekend.

Sports cards: All dealer's tables for the Big "K" Baseball baseball card and comic book show have been filled. The show is Sunday, Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the New Port Richey Holiday Inn, 5015 U.S. 19.

_ Correspondent Rick Gershman contributed to this report.