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.