MANCHESTER – It was time to play ball recently with Manchester Little League’s 60th Anniversary opening day festivities. Inclement weather unfortunately caused the milestone birthday program to be confined indoors.
The recent opening day festivities served to kick off the League’s 2023 spring season. The League’s website noted a thank you to coaches and volunteers. “It is because of the time you put in and your overall hard work and dedication that enables the young children and teenagers in this town to experience playing baseball with their friends and neighbors.”
While most people think of a Little League team as the kids, there’s also an entire team of adults working behind the scenes. Managers and coaches help teach the young players not only about the game of baseball but about overall life lessons, being a team player and to have fun. Team parents function as communicators and organizers for things like schedules, fundraisers, stand coverages, picture day, team information and much more. The Team Mom takes a lot off the shoulders of a manager and coach so they can concentrate on teaching the players.
Kellie McLeod has been part of the League for 18 years. “I really enjoy it. My kids started at the age of 4 years old. I started as a Team Mom, worked my way up to coach and eventually managed a team and was very successful. I think I was the first female manager.”
McLeod added, “we won a championship. Opening Day really went well. I believe it created a community that was extremely enjoyable to be around. We became like a family. Volunteers helped us with everything and I enjoy that part of it. I enjoy what the League offers to my children when it came to friendships and learning.”
The township Little League’s indoor training facility is pretty unique in the area. It opened in August 2010 after three years of hard work by many volunteers along with a lot of support and money from their sponsors.
“This is our 60th year but it is our 30th year on that field,” McLeod added. “I am the representative for District 18. We have one of the nicest facilities. We have a lot of field sponsors we depend upon for the Little League.”
McLeod said she enjoys “watching the children as they come through the League and to watch them grow and it is heartbreaking when you see them leave but they do come back and help as umpires, coach and volunteer.”
As the League doesn’t have a full-time grounds crew, all the coaches prepare the fields prior to games and practices. At the end of games and practices, fields need to be raked, dugouts swept, garbage cans cleaned and all equipment put away.
Resident Billy Cloonan is another League volunteer. “I’ve been there for almost eight years now. My son William is in his final year of Little League. I serve as a player agent for our minor league system. A lot of people were recognized on our opening day celebration. One person that needs to be recognized is Frank Kern.”
Cloonan added that Kern “has been with the league for over 15 years. He’s a board member, player agent and snack stand manager. He works ungodly hours and is always the first one there and the last one to leave and is never late.”
“He was a manager for years and his team finished in second place multiple times until finally winning states his last year coaching,” Cloonan said.
Fundraising has been important to the League over its six-decade history. Fundraisers offset the cost of running the League and proceeds from specific fundraisers pay for a portion of the League’s mortgage on the ITF.
Each coach is required by Little League to pass a criminal background check that is run free of charge. This process takes place in March. This season each League coach was required to attend a mandatory safety meeting at the ITF.
Working the snack concession is also important and for each home game, a Team Mom has to schedule one parent from their team to help work in the Snack stand for the length of that game. It works out where a parent only has to do this one time per season.
The League covers Manchester, Lakehurst, and Lakewood. A child must reside within this boundary to be eligible for All-Star teams. A child may play within the Manchester Little League who resides outside of this boundary, but will not be eligible for an All-Star team. In addition, a child living outside of these boundaries wishing to play with the League must be approved by Little League, Inc.
For further information about the Manchester Township Little League call 732-341-8320, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit manchesterbaseball.net