CLAIM TO FAME: Perhaps no field or arena in the area is as rich in black history as the Belmont Heights Little League complex, which produced major-league players such as Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield, Derek Bell, Vance Lovelace and Floyd Youmans. So when Jenkins, a baseball fanatic who was raised in east Tampa and whose father was in the Negro Leagues, watched the fields become littered with beer bottles and trash and the concession stand fall into disrepair, she had to do something. She became Belmont Heights Little League president in 2002 and spent much of the past two years gathering support and raising awareness for the dying ballpark. Her moxie paid off. With the help of the city, the Devil Rays, Little League Baseball, Lowe's and other local businesses, Belmont Heights is undergoing a $90,000 facelift. Jenkins dreams of the day the new Belmont Heights complex is considered a neighborhood hub where children can feel safe and adults can form a close-knit community like they did in the old days.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "It doesn't matter if you're a street cleaner or a government official, she's going to be in your face. She has that can-do attitude, and if it wasn't for Ann's tenacity, Little League baseball would have closed that (Belmont Heights) franchise." _ Ed Johnson, manager of East Tampa Development and Community Lending for the city, who worked with Jenkins to help revive the Belmont Heights complex.
DID YOU KNOW?: Part of Jenkins' persistent nature and call for order was developed during 20 years in the Air Force, where she served as an administration sergeant and played on a softball team.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Though she has been retired for a few years, Jenkins spends her days overseeing the Belmont Heights Little League operations and shuttling children to practices and school. She hopes to continue improving the quality of life in east Tampa and often meets with city officials to see that it happens.
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "I want these kids to grow up to be doctors, lawyers and good productive citizens, not baseball players. They're all not going to make it as baseball players."
_ EMILY NIPPS