SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 22, 2013

Latitude Sports programs expanding -- with some help from the pros

Bringing in some former professional athletes to help work with their programs is working wonders at Latitude Sports in Peabody.

Gary Leavitt, a Peabody native who took over as program director last November, brought in some pros to run the various programs at Latitude.

“I get to have a job I’m having so much fun doing,” Leavitt said. “We have something going on all the time, and the athletes running things are great to deal with.”

For instance, Steve Lomasney, the one-time Red Sox catcher from the Tanner City, ran a February vacation camp this week. Former Peabody High greats Jeff Allison (ex-first-round draft pick of the Florida Marlins), Ryan Moorer (of the Mariners) and Peter Soteropoulos (a 2004 member of Greek Olympic baseball team who was drafted by the Cardinals) helped out with the baseball side, while Courtney and Stephen Pilcher handled the softball end of things.

Latitude also installed a new turf field, which allows for greater use of the facility. On Sundays, the North Shore Flag Football League plays there from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., with kids from all over the North Shore playing indoor flag football. During the week, league founder Austin Bradshaw runs a men’s league there.

“We have between 400 and 500 people involved between the kids and adults,” Leavitt said. “My son plays quarterback for one of the teams and loves it. That sport is rapidly growing in popularity.

Lomasney, the Peabody High Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning quarterback (in 1993), said his Show Baseball Academy works quite nicely with what Leavitt and Latitude Sports have to offer.

“This (was) something new for us, but we’ve been very successful at Show Baseball. We offer a good-quality baseball program, and the new field at Latitude is gorgeous. It’s like “Field of Dreams”; if you build it, they will come. Gary and his people are doing a great job.”

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