In the United States spring time is a busy time for baseball with the pro season fast approaching. Here in Cayman its an equally momentous occasion for the sport.
Heading into this week the Field of Dreams facility in George Town has been heaving with activity.
There is fast pitch softball on the weekend with co-ed softball and youth leagues taking place throughout the week.
With a favourable financial position and an increased interest in baseball from locals, there are many positives to be seen in the Cayman Islands Little League.
The use of the fields thus far in 2011 is being seen as another plus. In fact Little League president Jim Parham, 51, states a number of different segments of society use the fields.
“Spring is as busy as can be,” Parham said. “Some of the schools use the fields for Physical Education classes involving softball and some football during the day and there’s not a single day it’s not busy from around 4pm to 9.30 at night.
In the summer it is kind of inactive as the seasons for little league and co-ed softball are ending and people are off island on vacation. In the fall things slowly pick up with the co-ed programme starting back up.
“Even though the Field of Dreams is primarily a baseball facility it is always open for things like fast-pitch softball and kickball. In the past there were even football clubs who paid to play/train. But they have since moved on to the government-owned football fields around the island that have been fixed up recently by government.
“People have to bear in mind though that the fields get wear and tear. Costs are charged to the organizations that use the fields to help us offset that situation. We do however allow non-profits to use the field at no charge because they’re essentially in the same boat as us.
For example the Rotary Club recently used the fields for a friendly softball event and it was at no charge because it was a one-off deal. Basically for one-time use we can allow that at no charge.Now if someone wants to use the facility on an ongoing basis, whether as a for-profit organization or on behalf of one, they will have to pay to help us tackle maintenance fees for the facility. As a group we want to make sure that the Field is there to be used for a long time to come.”
Maintaining the field is no small feat. With fluctuating oil prices and field turf that is near the end of its life, thousands of dollars go towards upkeep costs.
Overhauling the surface on a single field could cost around US$450,000.
With Little League being a non-profit entity, most of the funding for field maintenance comes from fund-raising initiatives.
Interestingly two of the organization’s biggest events are coming up. Parham, who hails from Tennessee, gave a brief description of those endeavours.
“We have a number of things coming up this year. The details for them will be released in due time. Our two major upcoming events I’d like to mention now are the auction and raffle. On 9 April Little League hosts its annual auction.
This year it’s being held at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay. On 28 May there will be the end of year raffle at the Field of Dreams. On 11 June Hurley’s Entertainment Group, specifically Rooster 101 FM, will host a duck derby at Camana Bay. That event is not being put on by Little League but the organizers have said proceeds from it will go towards the league.”
Ultimately with all of the positives seen in local little league, Parham is keen to see more involvement from locals. In his mind the amount of volunteers could be greater.
“We need more people to step up and take on responsibility for the kids. The kids are the ones who suffer without volunteers. We do have people involved with no kids in the sport. That is great because it shows people on this island genuinely love kids. But the parents are the ones who need to step up and put in the effort to help out.”