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Sun still shining on local leagues

Sun still shining on local leagues
It’s not a total washout by any standard for the local youth leagues.
As a matter of fact, the landscape looks somewhat sunny despite a down economy.
Though certainly not unscathed by the recession that has crippled some sectors and forced the closure of numerous businesses in the United States, area league officials insist they are still going strong.
As a matter of fact, most of the leagues reported to The Messenger that enrollment in their summer circuits has increased.
For starters, Obion County Softball League president Wayne Russell and Obion County Little League president Jeff Decker both confirmed to The Messenger that enrollment in their respective summer endeavors had climbed.
Union City Babe Ruth League president Jim Williamson told of a two-child increase from a year ago.
“The economy has had no effect on us,” said Williamson, who is in his first year as the UCBRL president. “We’ve had nearly the same numbers and amount of teams that we had last year.
“Actually, we got an eighth team when we started up the Senior Babe Ruth team for the first time since 2004.”
Russell said the Obion County Softball League, which has teams ranging from the 16-and-under fast-pitch age group through coach-pitch, is up 15-20 girls from last year.
Meanwhile, Decker said the county baseball league — which encompasses youths from coach-pitch, T-ball, minor league and little league — has increased by “a little” with more players but still a total of 30 teams in the league that involves youths from Woodland Mills, Troy, Hornbeak, Rives, Samburg and Obion.
“I think the economy may affect travel ball,” Russell said. “The only place we’ve taken a hit is in the concession stand because the cost of supplies has gone up.”
On the flip side, Union City Cal Ripken League president Wayne Baker reported his league was “down about 10-15 kids” in the recently-completed youth league campaign.
Those numbers could be due to youngsters simply aging and moving to the next level or giving up the game instead of financial woes.
That said, none of the local league figureheads told of situations where children were unable to play due to financial issues at home.
Certainly one level of assistance that could have helped parents in the OCLL was the deal put in place for families with multiple youths taking part. The first youngster can play for $20, while the second can register for $15 and the third for $10, according to Decker.
The registration fee for the Obion County Softball League was $30 this past spring and the UCCRL sign-up cost was $40. The cost to participate in the UCBRL was $35.
In the long run, those registration costs, which pay for uniforms, league equipment, field maintenance and insurance, among other things, aren’t very steep, considering the fact that admission is free when compared to the cost of going to one movie or a game at the pro level.
“I would say it’s a pretty good deal,” Williamson said. “You know where your kids are and you get around 20 games for $35.
“I don’t think you can beat that anywhere.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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