Tuesday, April 16, 2024

York County Little League Experiences Growth in Spring Registration Numbers

Ryan Saylor, 12, catching during the 2021 District 7 Majors All-Star tournament in July 2021. (Courtesy of YCLL)

YORK COUNTY — York County Little League (YCLL) closed its registration for the spring season on Jan. 30, and, after a final headcount, the League shared that it experienced a growth in the number of kids participating in both its baseball and softball programs.

“We’re lucky because we’re outdoors,” said YCLL Player Agent Laura Jay. “Which is helpful but we still were down probably to 620 last year and now we’re up to about 780 this year. So we’ve significantly bounced back and then some from where we were last year.”

About 200 of those kids will be participating in YCLL’s softball teams.

Little League is an international foundation that charters both baseball and softball teams in different communities across the country. The organization offers opportunities for kids who are starting to play sports at four-years-old to kids who are 15- and 16-years-old.

Halle Emerson, 5, playing YCLL Spring Tee-Ball as part of the Braves in May 2021. (Courtesy of YCLL)

For many kids, the Little League experience starts with tee-ball. This year, YCLL is going to have 17 tee-ball teams, which Jay says is more than what they’ve had in the last couple of years.

Then at the 10- to 12-year-old division, that’s when they have that chance to kind of win their district, win their state, win their region, and get to the little league world series,” said Jay. “Not many kids do that obviously, and what little league really is about, for us, is those kids that may not play high school ball. They may not even play in middle school, but they want to play baseball. They have fun playing baseball, and we want to make sure that every single kid that plays little league has a good experience, and that they want to come back next year, and that they make new friends.”

YCLL is run entirely by volunteers who dedicate their time to making sure the programs grow and run smoothly. There’s a board of about 12 to 16 people who are working on schedules, ordering uniforms, and making sure the coaches and teams have everything they need.

We don’t get paid a dime to do this,” said Jay. “We have no benefit personally to do this. We do this because we want to see these kids play. We want to see them have fun, and we want to see these kids grow and improve in the sport.”

The spring season begins with tryouts and player evaluation. After that, the kids start practicing, depending on the weather, the first week of March. The spring season typically runs to memorial day.

“The cool thing is once you get to be like 9, the teams are then done by a draft. So the kids all come and they try out. Then we pick managers and these managers draft them like you would your fantasy football team,” said Jay. “Because of that, you end up on teams with different kids. So you could be on a team with Johnny this year but next year, you’re playing Johnny every fifth game. You really get to know everybody in the community and that’s really another thing that’s good about it. You’re not just playing with the same kids that go to your school or something like that. You are getting to know all these different kids from the other side of town who you would have never had interacted with otherwise.”

The majority of YCLL’s games are played at McReynolds Athletic Complex. Jay says that YCLL also uses almost all of the York County School District fields. She recommends both the softball and baseball programs to anyone because of the bonds and experiences a kid makes while playing on a team.

“Give it a try. My kids, I had one that was really interested in baseball, and another one that wasn’t sure,” said Jay. “He tried it, and he really fell in love with the coaches and just enjoyed the sport. There’s some places where they think baseball is kind of a dying sport, but in York County, it really is striving, and it has a lot to do with the great volunteers and coaches and managers that we have within our league.”

More information on YCLL can be found on their Facebook page or the official website.

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