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Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone – The Ryan Lemmon Foundation, which has been a long-time sponsor of high school baseball tournaments in Orange County, is expanding to include a youth sports festival the weekend of Feb. 26-27, 2022 at the Orange County Great Park, according to Guy Lemmon, founder of the Ryan Lemmon Foundation.

The foundation has established RLF Sportz which will also include other youth sports. The RLF Sportz Festival, which will be open to boys and girls ages 8-and-under to 18-and-under will include girls and boys flag football and girls and boys soccer.

All 24 fields at the Great Park will be utilized that weekend, Lemmon said.

“Interestingly enough, it will be the first time that anyone under a single banner has rented the entire Great Park,” Lemmon said. “So we think we’re doing something good and better and are going to try and make it a fun and entertaining weekend for everybody.”

Lemmon will be joined by Dick Owens and former Woodbridge High School soccer coach Jon Szczuka, who led the program to three CIF titles, in running the event. Szczuka also coached with the Irvine Strikers and the Pateodores Soccer Club, where he led the team to seven national titles. He coached at Woodbridge from 1991 to 2006.

“The idea of this emminated to having the Ryan Lemmon Foundation being the entity that is sort of the sponsoring side and Jon has joined in with Dick and I at the foundation and we’ve set a separate arm of the foundation called RLF Sportz,” Lemmon said. “The foundation is just baseball, RLF Sportz is going to try and expand into other youth activities, flag football and soccer.

“We thought the idea of bringing a lot of people in multiple sports to a single location would create a great atmosphere.”

Szczuka said he sees many benefits of the festival.

“I think it an exciting opportunity for us to take some of the ideas and concepts and ideas we’ve had from soccer and apply it to other sports and in this case, dealing with the Great Park is a great location for us to be operating out of and I think this is a great group that we put together that sees the big picture,” he said.

“I’ve seen soccer grow throughout the last 20 to 30 years and it’s exciting to see us apply the same things to different sports, in not just a tournament atmosphere but a festival atmosphere.”

Owens, executive director and officer of the foundation, said officials see lots of potential in the festival.

“From the foundation standpoint, we’re excited to be able to expand our brand and do something different other than what we’ve branded ourself in baseball to reach more youth in the community and throughout Southern California and even reach out further,” he said. “I’m excited from that standpoint to be able to do soccer and (flag) football is a growing sport, especially on the girls side.”

Owens said the foundation will look at adding softball, baseball and basketball to future festivals and “maybe even get into tennis. We’re really looking at doing two or three events a year.”

The Ryan Lemmon Showcase and Ryan Lemmon Invitational high school baseball events will continue as scheduled, Owens added.