LETTER TO EDITOR: The state of New Haven's Little League

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By Jason Pilarski

I am writing about the state of New Haven Little League (NHLL).  First and foremost, I am not writing this for anything personal towards my wife's uncle, Gary Williman, but I am writing this to hopefully help better our towns little league.

In late March of this year the head of NHLL wrote a letter to the editor to a local newspaper that was directed towards me, yet it should have been directed towards my wife because she is the one that wanted to coach.  I held back on a response to that letter to hopefully give NHLL the benefit of the doubt that maybe it could be better than last year.

In that letter to the editor Mr. Williaman stated that he didn't know my wife wanted to coach and that we turned in our application late.  Here is what he didn't state.  My wife had seen Mr. Williman at several family functions coming into the baseball season and each time told him that she wanted to coach.  Then she turned in the paperwork for Hannah with her name on it to coach.  There were also at least three others that requested to be placed on my wife's team.  Though in the letter he stated, I (Jason) was the one who wanted to coach.

If you where to look at the form we sent in stating Tonya wanting to coach, and all the times Williaman and Tonya talked about coaching, why would he write a letter directed towards me and even quoting in his letter from our personal Facebook page how we said we were going to move our kids to Washington Little League.  Is this really relevant news to be put in the Leader?  So enough about his laughable letter.

My main concern is the quality of play for our children and the reason we have a little league in the first place.  There is specifically a total lack of leadership in our organization and it reflects poorly on our town as a whole.  The schedule last week was given out, and as far as I know everyone was given poorly hand written schedule with all the teams in the division on it.

If someone states they take pride in their job but doesn't have the time to type a clean document to the parents, then I and other parents begin to question why they are really doing this.  In addition, it looks like Gerald and Rhineland have dropped us from being played.  This leaves my daughters team playing two Hermann teams a multiple times and most of the games verses the same three New Haven teams.

This now brings me to my next point.  As a parent that wants my children to have fun playing a sport, I also want them to play other teams in the area to develop a better feel of competition that other towns in our area enjoy.

This isn't about money, this is about lack of desire.  I recently moved from Colorado and coached three years little league at a town smaller than New Haven and it was set up for success.  Here is how it was set up, and here is why I think New Haven Little League can be set up and once again be very successful.

NHLL BOOSTER CLUB:  During registration periods there can also be booster sign ups.  These are parents, or family members who want to volunteer their time for fund raisers (BBQs) and other events at fairs that can bring NHLL more money in their account.

Any money raised during a year would help lower the costs of each player that signs up.  It can also create aa extra flow of money for umpires, which we desperately need again.  The Booster Club in a sense is the heart and soul of the league.  The league's success is going to be dependent on an active Booster Club.  One example is, during NH Youth Fair NHLL Booster Club having a food booth, or a game booth.  Another are a few BBQ's a year.

UMPIRES:  At all levels, there needs to be an unbiased authority figure.  Each umpire should sit through a league-sponsored class before umpiring in the league.  Right now we use pitching machines in most elementary school student leagues because we don't have umpires.  This is one of the main reasons why we no longer play many out of town teams.  The Umpire Rep makes the schedule for umpires.

LEAGUE LEADERSHIP: Graphic replicates what was submitted however was reformated for appearance.

Here is an example of what I think would work better than a one man show.  Right now if you as a team have a concern you have only one person you can call, the head of the league.

In a new organization if a team has an umpire concern they would talk to the Umpire Rep.  The Umpire Rep runs all aspects of the umpiring crew and training.

The Softball Rep will run all aspects that due with softball, coaching class, player evaluations, and is there to field questions if softball issues arise.

The Baseball Rep will work the same way, runs baseball, coaching classes, player evaluations, and is there to field questions if baseball issues arise.  If any of those three can not be reached or can not fix the issue then it is directed toward the League President.

The League President is there to watch over the league as a whole, doing training with the Reps, working with boosters, working on making a better connection with the other communities in the area. 

To some this may look too complicated, but it can be even more complicated just look at what Washington's Little League looks like: http://www.washmosports.com/index.php

REGISTRATION: Right now if you miss the only registration date, then you have to mail it in.  I want to create an on-line registration like most other towns have, also printable forms if you don't want to go to a bank to pick up a form.  For example last year registration was held on my daughter's birthday, so we were out of town and missed it.  There needs to be a few other dates and times for people who may have questions but missed the only face to face registration.

TEE BALL:  As far as I can tell New Haven is the ONLY town without Tee Ball.  This is the most basic and cheapest level of competition we can field.  Most towns/cities use open space as fields because most diamonds are not set up for Tee Ball bases.  Tee Ball registration prices should be lowest of all prices due to the lowest costs and small number of games.  Tee Ball is designed to get kids the basics of the sport.  Other towns have their children 4-6 learn the sport through Tee Ball, yet if you start your child at 6 here, they may already be one or two years behind learning the sport.

TEAMS PLAYED:  I would like to be able to once again play better competition such as more Hermann, Washington, Gerald, and maybe Union.  For what we pay right now to only play other New Haven teams over and over again is too redundant.

EQUIPMENT:  Have you seen it?  Last year I opened up our bag and the helmets were missing pads and they had dirt in them.  Do they get washed, refurbished at all to bring them back to playing level.  Now I expect most people go and buy their own equipment, but there are many people who can't afford good equipment.

Do we expect them to have a 10 year old use an old metal Tee Ball bat with a helmet missing some of its support pads?  We need safer equipment, and equipment that is usable.  Just throwing one any size bat, a few water logged balls, and 4 broken helmets should not be the acceptable.  For those who have ever shopped at second hand stores during the fall and winter, do you see how many good quality baseball/softball equipment going for next to nothing?  Good/safe equipment can be found, you just have to look for it!

My daugther's softball team had to practice this year with balls that were not even the right size that they use in the games.  Is that fair for the girls to have to practice hitting and throwing with the wrong sized balls? 

DONATIONS:  Have you ever had that old bat or glove laying around the house collecting dust?  Why not set up donations also for the league of old equipment that can be refurbished and reused.

WEBSITE:  This maybe pre mature but I am working with the city in trying to develop a new site for New Haven.  Most of us have gone to our site www.newhavenmo.org  and tried to find any information for the city such as little league or parks.  I have a demo I have introduced to the city (this is just a demo I created to show the city) of what we can have for New Haven.  Since I am a city taxpayer I told the city I would create a site for free so the city can try to free up some money to use other places.
https://sites.google.com/site/newhavenmissouricity/

One this site there is a place for NHLL, there can be all the contact information, league schedules, league information, registration, etc.  We can do away with hand written schedules.  Also putting calendars of events for games also.

COACHES:  For safety of our kids, all coaches should be back ground checked.  Also all coaches should be deemed even able to coach.  Such as having a coaching class.  It is a very poor experience for our kids and parents to have a coach out there that doesn't know what is going on. 

CONCLUSION:  My MAIN point New Haven is this sort of system can be done!  It just takes a few people with passion to get it done!  I am not trying to out anyone, but we need change of leadership, someone with the passion and devotion to doing the best for our children of this community!  Again this is nothing personal, I am not trying to point fingers.  I don't doubt that the current group running the league doesn't try hard, but at what point as New Haven area citizens do we sit back and let this disaster keep coming back every spring.  Just look at the success we see in Upward sports!

Thank you for reading,
Jason Pilarski