By Joelle Wright
“Play ball!” rang throughout Addis and Brusly as the Westside Youth Baseball and Softball began its 2016 season over the weekend at Myhand and Alexander Parks.
This year is the beginning of a new board in charge of the West Side Youth League and there are already some big changes and plans for the future of the program.
“The biggest difference you will see with the board this year is the way we are designed. We have decided to have co-presidents. In past years it was always one president and the vice president. With the program growing and the need for balance with the baseball and softball sides, the board decided to create a baseball president and a softball president,” said Mary Ellen Dupont, president of softball and tee-ball. “This allows both programs to get the attention that it needs.”
Stacy Antie, who serves as the baseball president said the most successful change in the league has been the addition of a three-year-old tee-ball field, which now allows for every age group in the league to have its own playing field.
“Last year, our boys 6U machine pitch teams and boys 4/5 tee-ball teams had to share a field. To have 13 teams on one field made it difficult to be able to play enough games to truly teach the game of baseball,” Antie said. “With this addition, we were able to give the boys 6U machine pitch teams the entire field, give the 4/5 boys tee-Ball teams the three-year-old tee-ball field at Alexander and the three-year-old tee-ball teams moved to their new field (the grassy area behind Alexander Park). We need to thank Anatole Vincent, Director of Parks and Recreation for all his hard work of turning the field into a true baseball field.”
Another change that has been made this year was the league’s new website, www.westsidebaseballandsoftball.com.
“This website allowed us to use the new registration process which gives us the ability for parents to register more easily, for us and coaches to send communications out when needed, and also for schedules to be available using an app,” Dupont said.
Dupont said that as president, her main goal for the league is for kids to learn the game in a fun environment through a quality program.
“We are lucky to have top-notch facilities provided by our parish and strive to offer a top-notch recreational baseball and softball program. With the range of experience players have in recreational programs, it’s sometimes hard for our programs to be as competitive as other programs can be,” she said. Because of this, many children leave our program for travel ball and other things similar. I like to see kids stay in our program a little longer, to help make our program more competitive for all skill levels. We believe the key to to make this happen is through our coaches.”
This year, the league hosted a coaching clinic sponsored by The Cage to help give our coaches tools for practice plans, game situations and general knowledge.
“I hope to continue to offer similar programs for our coaches not only at the beginning of the season but throughout the year,” Dupont said. “The more tools we can give to our coaches the more knowledge they can pass on to their players.”