Rutland County Little League shares a love of baseball with area youth
Originally published in the Mountain Times
It may be difficult to think about summer when your windshield wipers are frozen to your car and simply opening the door requires bundling up, but the warm weather will be here before you know it. And what better way to celebrate summer than with a little baseball?
Enter Rutland County Little League. Chartered with Little League International in 2017, the league has grown from seven Majors teams, to 13 total teams (including tee ball and coach pitch) with over 150 players ages 4-12.
“Our purpose was to revive excitement for the game of baseball for the youth of Rutland County,” League president Paul Lasky said. “It’s well known how important sports are to keep kids active, healthy and to develop their character as well as to help keep them out of trouble. We just happen to think this sport is the best way to accomplish this because we love baseball.”
Lasky pointed out just one of the many examples of kids who have benefitted from playing in the league.
“There was one player who was particularly behaviorally challenged, and playing on a team really encouraged him to find it within himself to become a part of the team. His behavior by the end of the season, with the help of a caring coach and other volunteers, improved to the point where his teammates were encouraging him and proud to have him on their team. That’s one of the situations where there were tears at the game where this child went out and got a hit and ran the bases, when previously he had refused. These are the kinds of things that make it all worthwhile.”
Registration for 2020 began Jan. 1 at rutlandcountylittleleague.com, and the season kicks off March 14, with a registration day event at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland. All families will receive a 20% discount storewide on the day of the event. The registration fee is $40 with a uniform deposit of $40 for Majors. All players receive a team t-shirt and baseball hat with registration. Parents can purchase the team t-shirt with their child’s jersey number to show support. Financial assistance is available to all players in need.
“It’s our philosophy that if a child wants to play baseball, they will be able to play baseball,” Lasky said.
RCLL relies on business sponsors to help defray the operating costs of the league, including uniforms, equipment and field use, and fundraising for the remainder.
The baseball season officially starts in March when indoor winter gym sessions begin. Kids practice throwing, catching and other skills at the Police Academy Gym in Pittsford. Outdoor practice begins when the fields are playable, which is generally early to mid-April. Games start by the beginning of May and end the last week of June. RCLL rents field use and plays at several local fields, including White’s Field, JFC Field, MSJ Field, formerly the College of Saint Joseph Field, Castleton University and Chippenhook Field.
The teams in Rutland play each other throughout the season, as well as vying for the title in the District 2 Tournament play against Bennington Little League and Brattleboro Little League, with someday the hope of making it all the way to the Little League World Series.
“Last season, our 11-year-old team won the league’s first tournament game against Brattleboro Little League, which is a big accomplishment for our players in our second year of tournament play against these established leagues. This year we expect our players to do even better!” Lasky said. “Although all-star play is an exciting part of our league, it’s not our driving force. Our focus is on our regular season and the development of all of our players.”
In the 2020 season, RLCC hopes that increased player interest will require them to add more teams and secure additional fields as the program develops. The ultimate goal is to have a dedicated facility with fields and concessions for games. “We are in constant pursuit of a property to make our home, and possibly a donor to make this a reality,” Lasky said.