2009-01-30 / Sports

Youth league association seeks more participation

By JIM LOWE Staff Writer

Sporting a new name and a new board of directors, the Lampasas County Youth League Association hopes for an increase in youth and parental participation this season.

Baseball and softball registration opened last Saturday, and the final day to register is tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lampasas Middle School Gym on Western Avenue.

Online, one can register at http:// LeagueLineup.com/Lampasas.

League play is for boys ages 3-12 and girls ages 3-14.

In recent years, noted league association president Rick Rebando, "We'd had declining numbers of kids, parents and corporate sponsors.

"We're trying to get the organization back for the good of the kids."

During the past year or so, turnouts for games have not kept pace with the excellent attendance of other years, Rebando said.

The youth league association wants to change that.

"The organization is here because of the kids," he said.

Besides Rebando, other board members are Van Berry, director of 9-12 boys; vice president Joe Sharkey, director of 3- and 4-yearold T-ball teams; and Debbie Wiles, secretary-treasurer.

Other directors are Rodney Seaver; Greg Gilseth, director of girls' softball; Jon Bever, Brian McBeth, Mark Rathman, David Gholson and Gary Spore.

Registration is $45 for the first child; $40 for the second; and $20 for the third or more. Funds go toward caps and jerseys, field and equipment improvements, National Pony League dues, insurance and umpire costs.

"We keep it affordable," Rebando said, noting that one league in a nearby community charges registration of $85 per child.

"We're constantly trying to upgrade our equipment for the kids to keep them safe," he said.

Businesses can provide corporate sponsorships, too.

For $200, corporate sponsors can purchase a sign to advertise their business on fences at the fields. For $250, businesses can put their name on a team's shirts. If a corporate sponsor wishes to do both, it can do so at the discounted rate of $400.

Registration fees and corporate sponsorships also will help pay for All-Star teams at the end of the season.

Last year, a Lampasas T-ball All- Star team -- comprised of boys and girls -- participated in post-season play in Austin.

Teams there are well-financed, and the Lampasas County Youth League Association is counting on increased local participation to help Lampasas teams be on more equal footing with their counterparts from larger cities.

A new wrinkle this season is the addition of McBeth -- the Lampasas High School varsity baseball coach -- to the board of directors.

McBeth will lead a clinic to give league association coaches tips on how to prepare their kids for eventual high school-level competition, Rebando said.

Key upcoming dates for the league include tryouts Feb. 14, a draft from Feb. 17-19 and opening ceremonies for league teams on March 28.

During tryouts, parents do not have to worry about whether their child will be able to make the team or not, Rebando said. "If you sign up to play, you'll play," he said.

Tryouts simply give coaches an opportunity to determine the skill level of young athletes and match them with the best position on a team, he said.

The season will run through May, with All-Star competition in Austin to begin in June.

In 2008, a girls' softball All-Star team "did real well" in out-oftown play, Rebando commented.

An area on which league directors want to concentrate is 11- and 12-year-old boys' competition. There, the numbers have dwindled in recent years. "That area needs to increase," Rebando said.

Last season, because of the small number of participants, a local All- Star team of 11- and 12-year-olds failed to materialize. When there is such a gap in participation, area athletes fall behind their opponents from other schools when high school play begins, Rebando said.

The league association president said directors want more kids from Lometa to take part in the program this year. Toward that end, they have enlisted the help of Micky Tower, director of parks and recreation for the city of Lampasas and a Lometa resident himself.

Rebando praised the work of Tower and another city employee, board member Gary Spore, in preparing baseball and softball fields and keeping them "in top [shape] for the season."

For more information about the youth league association, please call Rebando at 556-5298. E-mails can be addressed to LampasasYouthLeague@gmail.com.

Key dates

The final day to register for the upcoming Lampasas County Youth League Association baseball and softball seasons is Saturday. Key upcoming dates are listed below.

Tryouts -- Feb. 14. Object is to determine kids' skill levels and the best position for them. All children will make the team, association president Rick Rebando said. "If you sign up to play, you'll play," he said.

Draft -- Feb. 17-19. Youths will be selected for the different teams. Boys ages 3-12 will compete; girls, 3-14.

Opening ceremonies -- March 28. League teams will kick off their seasons, which will run through May. All-Star teams will compete in Austin the following month.

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