New league to be formed for youth baseball & softball

Published 8:58 am Thursday, January 5, 2017

Change is on the horizon for youth baseball and softball in Elizabethton and Carter County.
After years of discussion between the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department, Elizabethton National Cal Ripkin and Carter County American League, both baseball and softball organizations voted to disband the two boards of the organizations with the intention of creating one youth baseball and softball league for Elizabethton and Carter County. The league is expected to be ready for the upcoming spring season for the youth.
“I think it’s a great step,” National League Representative Jeff Hardin said. “This has been idea that’s been going around now for three years. It’s great to come together and produce a product that will be great for the kids.”
American Little League Representative Mike Little added this idea will allow the new league to take a more direct approach to work with the children and credited the help from the Parks & Rec department, including Director Mike Mains.
“It’s been great to have the chance to merge all our resources together,” he said. “Everybody has come together to make this happen. Mike (Mains) was very instrumental in getting this situated.”
Mains and Parks & Rec Recreation Manager David Nanney provided more information of the merging Wednesday afternoon about the department’s involvement with the organization. An organizational chart was created to give all parties involved with the merging equal leadership roles, including both leagues, Parks & Rec staff, the city Parks & Rec board and the Boys and Girls Club. The league is expected to incorporate over 1,000 children.
“I think it is a tremendous opportunity for the children that will be playing these sports,” Nanney said. “Being able to bring the pool of talent together, better utilization of the fields and it’ll also give less stress for businesses that are usually up for grabs between both leagues. Everything that went into this was all about making sure this is all about the children.”
Mains added he’s excited to have the Parks & Rec involved to assist with maintaining fields, marketing, registration and fundraising ideas.
“One of the greatest things I’ve seen out of this is both leagues coming together,” Mains said. “Just to see the leagues come together to join forces to say ‘we are going to make this happen.’”
Various benefits were mentioned in regards to the merging, including the scheduling of athletic fields, the overall talent being under one umbrella, the multiple agencies involved and help with short and long term planning for facility improvements.
Mains added as the meetings pick up prior to the start of the season, obstacles will show up. Currently, a decision was voted on by both boards to end their relationships with Cal Ripkin and Little League play and move toward a more independent league, structured to be operated like the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association.
The league will look to adopt rules and regulations based on the organization, Mains said. Another avenue being taken is working with local high school coaches to be involved with the league to further progress the league as a feeder program.
“It’s definitely an important thing,” Little said about involvement for coaches. “We hoping to lean on them. We’re seeking their input moving forward.”
Upcoming meetings will include adopting rules and regulations, the structure of scheduling and bulking up an online presence with social media and a website.
The current age groups for the league include:
11-12 years old
9-10 years old
7-8 years old rookie ball
11-12 years old
9-10 years old
7-8 years old rookie ball
4-5 years old coed
5-6 years old coach pitch softball and baseball
The first round of player registrations will be held at the city Parks and Rec center on February 18 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Future registrations dates will also be included.
For more information, visit the City of Elizabethton website or call the department at (423)547-6440 or (423) 547-6441.

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