Lamar Neagle can remember his high school days. Thinking about where he would go to college, dreaming about playing professional soccer and living the care-free life of a teenager.
However, while living in Seattle and playing for Sounders FC, he frequently drove past the Orion Center and saw teens with real issues on their minds. The center for homeless youth in Seattle was just one reason Neagle took part in the United Way All-Star Softball Classic for Youth Homelessness last year, and this year he will be joined by Seattle teammate Osvaldo Alonso in the game on Saturday at Safeco Field.
"It's hard to think about your future when your main concern is your next meal," Neagle said. "That's a side of homelessness that you don't normally see. I think it's a great cause and I'm proud to help out."
On the soccer field, Neagle is a versatile athlete, capable of playing multiple roles for Sounders FC. He ranks third all-time for Sounders FC with 18 career goals for the Rave Green and is third on the team this season with five goals and four assists. He is hardly out of his element on the Safeco Field diamond, but he thinks Alonso, who grew up in baseball-crazy Cuba, will make an impression in the game.
"I think he's going to be all over the place. Whenever he gets the chance, he's hitting tennis balls with a PVC pipe in the locker room," Neagle said. "I think he'll be trying to pull his weight. We're on opposite teams, but I'm not too worried."
Sounders FC has the weekend off from MLS action, meaning the Seattle pair were freed up for the event, which raised over one million dollars for homeless youth last year and has already surpassed 900 thousand dollars this year.
While the allure of playing baseball at Safeco Field helped draw Alonso to the game, so did the message of aid to people in the city that he has grown to love in his six seasons with Sounders FC.
"It's always good to help people who need it. Anytime you can do something like this that can help raise money and awareness, it's a good thing," Alonso said. "I'm happy to help the community in Seattle."
Every year in King County, at least 5,000 area youths experience homelessness. That rate has increased by 47-percent since 2008 and over half of those will drop out of school before finishing high school. To contribute or for tickets, visit www.uwkc.org.