One of the surest and quickest ways to bring my anger to the top of my bald noggin is to tell me there is nothing for kids to do in Petaluma. It flat galls me when someone tells me they have a plan to keep the kids off the streets. Are you kidding me? The only reason most Petaluma kids are on the street is because they are going to 7-11 or Taco Bell to get something to eat after practice.
I don't think it is an exaggeration to say on this day, March 28, 2013 there are thousands of Petaluma youngsters between the ages of six and 18 participating in some sort of sports activity, whether they are playing a game or practicing to play a game.
Spring means baseball and Petaluma has three of the best high school baseball programs in the North Bay. St. Vincent, Casa Grande and Petaluma all made the North Coast Section playoffs last season and all three might have even better teams this spring. Of course, all three schools also have junior varsity and freshman programs. The foundation for the high school programs are the Little Leagues and Petaluma has three solid Little League programs with the Petaluma National, Petaluma American and Petaluma Valley. The excitement created by the Petaluma National Little League's World Series participation means that more kids than ever registered for Little League this spring. That doesn't even count the travel-ball teams and the Athletic Edge's Fall Ball instructional program.
If Petaluma High Schools have solid baseball programs, they have even better softball programs. St. Vincent won the North Coast Section championship in its division last year and Petaluma's Sonoma County League champion T-Girls played in the NCS championship game in its division. Casa Grande was an NCS participant. Casa and Petaluma have junior varsity programs as well. The foundation for the high school success is the Petaluma Girls Softball Association which does for softball what Little League does for baseball, starting kids at six and teaching them to play the game right. The PGSA's competitive Steal Breeze teams play in NorCal, state and national tournaments against the top teams from the state and sometimes the nation.
Petaluma, Casa Grande and St. Vincent all have quality tennis and golf programs, teaching youngsters skills that can keep them active and frustrated all their lives. Boys are playing right now, while girl tennis players and golfers play in the spring.
Track is hugely popular with high school athletes. Casa Grande has more than 100 athletes for its program and the Gauchos don't even have a home track. Petaluma also has a huge turnout and both high schools are fed by strong programs at Kenilworth and Petaluma junior high schools.
Swimming is probably the most under appreciated of all high school sports, but not by its participants who live for PRs and root for their teammates with an enthusiasm unmatched by most other athletes. Casa Grande, Petaluma and St. Vincent all have competitive teams despite a lack of facilities. The Westside Aquaducks are one of the North Bay's most successful youth swimming programs.
That doesn't even mention the high school programs in lacrosse, mountain biking and badminton. Did you know that Casa Grande has more than 40 kids playing badminton?
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing youth sports with hundreds of kids of all ages carrying around sticks and learning about a very fun sport.
Don't forget the scores of kids in gymnastics at places like the Redwood Empire Gymnastics.