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Drafting New for 2013 East Hampton Little League Season

Sadness as a tradition is left behind, but board is trying to create competitively balanced teams town-wide.

Gone are the days when kids from a particular hamlet in East Hampton Town were automatically on the same Little League team. The 2013 East Hampton Little League season is going to be different in that most players will be drafted, but the board that runs the league feels that the move allows for the most equitable play on the field.

Thursday marks the last day for sign-up with a discounted registration fee, and there is some concern that registration numbers for the season may be down because of the decision.

"There seems to be a lot of controversy and mis-information floating around about the LL Board throwing all the teams into a hat, which is causing a lot of parents concern about the experience this year," said Mike Sarlo, speaking on behalf of the board as its secretary.

Sarlo said the board has faced several challenges over the past few years with regards to separating the teams strictly by hamlet; Amagansett, Springs, Wainscott, Montauk, and East Hampton.

"Due to registration numbers, roster sizes, age/grade distribution and available pitching talent from hamlet to hamlet, there have been many troubling instances ranging from a few kids from one school being asked to go play in another hamlet, kids moving from one hamlet to another but staying with their previous hamlet's team, a dearth of pitching talent in one hamlet vs. another, all of which have led to numerous complaints from parents," Sarlo said.

Last year, there were a bout 380 kids who participated, according to Dave Rutkowksi, the president of the board.

The board, he said, "wrestled with the idea," weighing different options to solve the problems. "We spoke to numerous parents and coaches as well as league officials from other districts, and ultimately decided, by nearly unanimous vote, to combine the kids from Springs, Amagansett, East Hampton and Wainscott into one pool of players to create as fair and balanced a league as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, Montauk, because of the distance between the other other hamlets was left out of the pool, he said.

All of the "upper division kids" (11 or 12 year olds) who played last season will remain on their team for this upcoming season.

Combining teams is nothing new, as it has worked for other youth sports in town — Town Soccer, PAL Football, SYS Basketball, Long Island Junior Soccer League, East Hampton Youth Lacrosse, and the Hurricanes Swim team. "They have all been extremely successful and EHLL felt it was finally time to follow suit," Sarlo said.

"While the board fully recognizes the certain sadness to be leaving a tradition of the Springs or Amagansett kids as classmates moving up through little league together, and the issues of carpooling with a neighbor, or scheduling fields around the hamlet school schedules, we ultimately felt that the best option to move the league forward was combining the kids," he said. "We would have loved to include Montauk as well, but the distance just makes it too hard to work out."

On its website, the league posted: "It is the goal of EHLL to create a town-wide program with competitively balanced teams and an atmosphere that allows for growth and development of baseball and softball skills as well as social development. . . We realize this will be a change for many families. However, the positives far outweigh the minor inconveniences it may create."

Registration closes on Feb. 28. Practices starts in mid-March and the season begins in April.

Registration for the season is $85. Eligible players in first through sixth grades. Forms are available online. A copy of birth certificate and utility bill as proof of residency are required. To register online, click here.

How do you support the decision? Will your kids be participating this season? Tell us if you are looking forward to an exciting 2013 season? Leave a comment below.

Allison Marie January 31, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Sadly, after 10 years of my children playing on EH Little League this board decision has my 4th grade daughter deciding to no longer participate. I know the board did not take the decision lightly but, it's not one that works for our family. I know we are not alone as a few of her friends have dropped out as well. I wish them luck on their season. I will be curious to see how it goes
Teresa Schurr January 31, 2013 at 07:51 PM
I think this change is a mistake and have voiced my opinion to the board. I know of families that will not be participating becuase of this. With Montuak out of the draft they have already made them the strongest team. The kids that play little league as a community will be familar with each other over a 6 year period. This new drafting process will put all the middle schools at a disatavatage, again except for Montauk, becuase they have not played together for years and will have to start the bonding process at the 7th grade level. This will be my last year as a coach as my daughter is in her final year. I hope this works out for the kids. Teresa
todd February 01, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Those who think it's a bad idea apparently are more concerned about their child's trophy than even competition. I think it's a positive that kids from Springs, East Hampton and Amagansett will play together. Maybe the change will have a beneficial impact on the behavior of some parents and coaches. Can't hurt.
Kieran Brew February 01, 2013 at 03:23 AM
It's about time! As a parent and former coach, I fully support the board's decision. Though we'll miss the quaintness of having an Amagansett Team, there are just too many complications, as Mr. Sarlo and Mr. Rutkowski mention in the article. The kids already play all of the other sports together, and they end up together eventually anyway. Plus, this gives them a chance to play with different kids each year, under different coaches creating different opportunities and learning experiences. And it will also give everyone a chance to play on a competitive team so they can "win some, lose some". I commend the board for having the guts to make a difficult decision that may not be popular, but will be fair and in the best interest of the kids playing the games.
charlotte klein sasso February 01, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I think the change is a mistake as well. Precisely because the other sports are predominately town-wide, it was sweet to keep something distinct for the hamlets. Most parents are less concerned about "competition" than about the sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship that teams offer. The neighborhood teams are a throwback to simpler times when kids played without schedules and adult interference. Most people I've spoken with from Amagansett, Springs and East Hampton are unhappy with the decision. If Montauk is left out of the equation how can the Board claim the process is the same as the other team sports anyway?
Gail Simons February 01, 2013 at 06:11 PM
I believe that part of the problem is the over-the-top pressure that some parents and some coaches put on these teams to win. Many kids sit out for an entire season because they're the youngest on the team & the coaches are hell-bent on winning at any cost. These are supposed to be learning teams - so what are we teaching? How about working with the teams that there are, not putting so much emphasis on winning and putting more into learning sportsmanship and the joy of the game. I, personally, know of several kids who didn't or aren't going back because they sat on the bench for most of a season. The old line of "they have to pay their dues" doesn't cut it. It's a sorry arguement that holds no water. Let the teams be, deal with whatever talent is given and HAVE FUN with it. Ask any kid (without being first influenced by an over-zealous parent) why they want to play little league and their response will be "to have fun", secondly they'll say "to play with my friends", other responses will be "to learn how to play". Kids never respond with "to win" as their first answer!!! (I've spent hours researching this - it was an issue last year). Ask the kids! See what they say! I guarantee they'll surprise you.
Kieran Brew February 01, 2013 at 08:27 PM
And in the past, those "over-the-top pressure" parents and coaches created teams stacked with good players. This was one of the major problems this change is intended to address. My son played "right field" on a stacked team last year. There were many games when we would "mercy" the opponent before some of the kids ever got to touch the ball. We won, but it was NOT fun. Neither was the ride home....
Gail Simons February 05, 2013 at 05:17 PM
There should also be a better rotation system of players. My son's coach last year constantly refered to him as a "sub", never as a team member. He was only played because he HAD to be played - and chastized when his attention wandered after multiple innings of sitting on the bench. We were given the crap excuse that kids pay their dues the first year, yada yada. Just because that's how some coaches have done it, doesn't mean it's right. The Canadian leagues have rules that make it much more fun and fair for ALL of the children the "Fair Play Philosohpy" is brilliant: http://www.ollb.org/ollb/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=61
Preliator February 05, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Only in East Hampton can you screw up baseball.
Allison Marie February 06, 2013 at 12:40 AM
I do think its a bad idea. But never out of concern for a trophy. That's an unfair assumption. I have always thought the teams needed to be more even. My son just aged out of Little League and has not been on "winning" team since he was in 3rd grade. In fact, he has not been on a team with even a winning record since. If my concern was a trophy, I would have been one of the parents having a fit to get him on a "certain" team. We all know it happens. There is Coach preference, team preference, etc etc. Our family plays for the game. Period. We are in complete agreement that some of the parents, Coaches and players need behavior adjustments. I also agree the teams need to be more evenly distributed. But I just don't think this is the answer. Just my opinion. It has nothing, at all, to do with my desire to have my kids on"the team". I have many years of my two sons Little League records to back that up. Like I said, I wish the League luck.
Rich Morey May 22, 2013 at 03:22 PM
When I played little league we were "drafted" - you went to a day of open try outs and were then told the next day or so what team we were on. In addition, not everyone "drafted" made the team. I remember this because my older brother didn't make it his first year of little league but I did (as did my older sister!). Also, if you missed the practice before a game you didn't get to play in the game - there was none of this "everyone has to play". Players who showed up for practice and worked hard were rewarded with playing time regardless of their skill level. Players who missed practice or goofed around, etc. didn't get to play.
Gail Simons May 28, 2013 at 01:09 PM
I am missing how you can "stack" a team if it's just made up of kids from the same district? So does that mean that, just for instance, that one hamlet breeds better ball players vs. the other hamlets? And isn't it supposed to be about learning the game, the joy, the team play - not about winning or losing? I've read studies that show that winning is last on most kid's lists as to why they want to play baseball. At the LL age level, most will simply reply "to have fun" or "to make friends". Winning isn't at the top of the list. Not at this age level. Save that for the older ages. There really needs to be a better way to get the true spirit of what the Little League organization stands for: From the Little League official site: Sample Mission Statement Little League aspires to be an outstanding educational-athletic organization that provides a high-quality experience, in which every athlete: • Is coached using the principles of the Little League Double-Goal Coach • Has fun playing the game • Feels like an important part of the team regardless of performance • Learns "life lessons" that have value beyond the playing field • Learns the skills, tactics and strategies of the game and improves as a player.

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