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Sports make a return at Cleveland Elementary

LAWTON, Okla._For the first time in decades, a local elementary school will play a full season of sports this next school year.

The Cleveland Elementary Booster Club was approved by LPS last September. After a successful trial season of softball this past spring, the school will compete in basketball, soccer, baseball and tee-ball during the 2015-2016 school year.

Even though the teams are connected to the schools, they are not funded by them. They depend on Booster Club dues and donations, so their financial support simply dried up. It wasn't until a former Cleveland student, Jo Weber-Mietchen, recently decided to build a Booster Club and she sought donations, grants and even places to play. All of this was done so the kids at Cleveland Elementary could play sports together.

Natilli Pollock will be a fourth-grader at Cleveland Elementary this school year. She says she has fun playing all sports, but she is looking forward to playing one in particular.

"Softball, because most of the time I get to hit the ball all the way to the outfield and I get home runs," Pollock said.

Jennifer Pollock, Natilli’s mother, grew up playing sports in Lawton. She believes it’s an essential part of growing up, which is why she got her daughter into it.

"Playing sports, I believe, helps the kids learn how to build dedication, commitment. It teaches them to do good in school because they have a reason why they need to do good. It takes them out of running around and getting them into mischief," Pollock said.

Jo Weber-Mietchen is the president of the Cleveland Booster Club, and also a Cleveland alumni. She played for the school before the teams went away and was eager to bring them back. She says she wanted to start the Booster Club to give the kids at Cleveland Elementary a chance of making the school teams in the future. Especially because most people in the neighborhood can't afford nice equipment.

"We have parents that are younger and they are less established, they are just starting out. So, the economic level is not very high," Weber-Mietchen explained.

The Booster Club received a grant from Lawton Chrysler Jeep Dodge to help offset some of the startup costs. Weber-Mietchen also worked with Cameron Baptist about the possibilities of using their gym, which is about half a mile from the school.

Being a new program, they are asking for donations. They are in need of equipment and gym wear, for those students who can't afford them. Donations can be dropped off at Lawton Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Jackson's Laundry and Dry Cleaning on Southwest 11th Street and Cameron Baptist Church.

Students can sign up for sports at the elementary school. The first sport on the calendar is soccer in September.

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