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Jeff TullyWhile most people had fun and...

Jeff Tully

While most people had fun and celebrated on the Fourth of July, a

group of girls youth softball players spent some of its Independence

Day working.


With temperatures in the high 90s, some members of the Burbank

Thunder under-12 girls’ team were laboring on the holiday trying to

raise funds by selling root beer floats to thirsty customers outside

a local grocery store.


“The girls gave up some of their holiday and they were really

working hard trying to raise some money,” Thunder Coach Mike Peraza

said. “It was a really great effort from a group of girls who are

determined to reach their goal.”

That goal is to raise enough money to afford a trip to a

prestigious tournament in a week. The Thunder -- which plays in the

Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services Department Ponytail

League -- has been invited to take part in the National Softball


Assn. 2003 World Series July 19-27 in Beaumont, Texas.

Peraza said he estimates it will cost more than $6,000 to send 11

players, in addition to coaches and support staff, to the event.

“Most of our players don’t come from well-to-do families and they

don’t have the money to pay for the trip,” Peraza said. “With airline

tickets, hotel rooms and other things like food, it really gets

expensive to send a team to a tournament like this.

“The girls have been doing all they can to try and raise the


money, but it has been very hard. We have been pretty lucky in that

some local business have been really good at donating supplies to


Along with selling root beer floats, the Thunder players have been

working for weeks on other fund-raising endeavors, with modest


On weekends, the girls have been toiling in the heat with car

washes in the parking lot of the Wienerschinitzel at 1001 N. San

Fernando Blvd. The players, coaches and others involved with the team

have spent hours cleaning cars for $5 and $7 a pop.

The girls even went door to door selling car-wash tickets in


With some items donated by the local Smart & Final, the players

also earned a modest amount of money making homemade gift baskets.

In a tuneup to the World Series, the Thunder is in Modesto this

weekend taking part in the California State Championship.

A dominating team in 2002, the Thunder has had its ups and downs

this season since moving up from the 10-and-under division. Last

season, the Burbank team finished second in the state and third in

the World Series in Las Vegas.

With his team’s success in 2002, Peraza said he expects opponents

to come gunning for the Thunder in the World Series.

“There will be some very good teams in the tournament,” he said.

“And with how well we did last year, a lot of the teams know us now.

We are just going to have to go out and play our best.”

Unlike many travel-ball teams, the Thunder is made up almost

entirely of players from Burbank.