Little League Baseball and Softball in West Windsor Plainsboro and Cranbury NJ

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WWLL Board Meeting – December 9, 2008

Executive Board Members Present: Kevin Chapman, Andy Lupo, Ron Russell, Jackie Stein, Ellen Vogt, Chris Thornton; Shawn Panson
Others in attendance: Linda DeMilt; Larry Charlip, Sean Bluni, Dana Panson, Nich Schiera, Theresa Chao-Bergman, Mickey Grover, Ted Phelan, Brian O’Leary, Chris Siegler, Steve Lichtenstein.
Minutes. Approved.
Treasurer’s Report (Shawn Panson) – Income is flowing in for registration, without much in the way of expenses. Clinics are about a wash income to expenses. Cash position for the league is fine. Balance sheet looks fine.
Registration: (Linda) 174 registrations processed. Only 29 for Boys majors. Month end December last year had 404, so expect that we’ll have many registrations during the coming months. Andy noted that we need to get flyers out to the Kindergartens to advise parents of the younger kids about t-ball, particularly since there is some confusion about the minimum age for t-ball this year. Ellen/Bill will work on getting something up on the web site concerning the ages for t-ball. Linda thinks that we are about at the same point as last year. Chris thinks that we may need to stretch out registration deadline for majors into mid-January. Reg. deadline for persons who want to manage majors is Dec. 15. Ellen notes that we can send out email blast to all parents from last year.
Dicussion about some parents who might be in financial distress and may be delaying registration. Web site already includes information about financial assistance for families. May want to emphasize that if we send out an email blast. {speculation about why some people may not have registered yet.}
Softball Ron reports that registration is slow. Still looking for coordinators for Majors and Rookies. Volunteers are needed. Ron needs help identifying possible volunteers from among the parents of younger kids. District 12 softball organizational meeting is being hosted by WW next week. Will be coordinating playing rules, interleague play, etc. Will also schedule meeting for fixing the playing schedule for interleague games. After the holidays, coordinators will get on the phone and work on recruiting registrations.
Baseball Chris reports that t-ball age discussions are done and published. 5-year-olds will be able to play t-ball. Will do this age level for a couple of years and see how it goes. Majors will be first on the list for organization and draft. Majors managers will be chosen soon after close of registration. Minors coordinators are both returning, and are experienced and familiar with the web site, so that should work out well. New coordinators for AAA this year, but George Revok is experienced in other jobs. Will have a good stock of talent as coordinators.
Brian O’Leary offers some preliminary detail about majors. Brian needs to become more proficient working with the Demosphere web application, do an analysis of the registrations, and contact any players from last year who have not yet registered. Will coordinate with Minors coordinators in order to set the number of teams and also set schedule for workouts/tryouts, set draft date, and try to get the teams selected so that they can be practicing indoors by the end of January. Sean Bluni has boys playing Rookies this year and will be working with Brian. He will be around for a number of years. Anticipate Sean taking over as lead coordinator in 2010.
Player Agent: Jackie says that she would still like to get evaluations from parents on their coaches – even if they are from last year. Evaluation form is on the web site and anyone should feel free to submit forms. We also now have a formal description of the player agent role posted on the web site. Note that evaluations are confidential and are only seen by the player agent, who will communicate with the managers as necessary concerning general feedback.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Larry asks Ellen whether he can have access to registration information on the web site without having to ask for it. Making preliminary arrangements for 2009 registration. Would like to send out flyers through the schools if possible. Also want to go through the school counselors for the high schools to let them know that the program exists and high school students can volunteer. Larry will get Linda a flyer to submit through the school board and posted on the district web site. On-line registration is up on our web site.
Player Development Clinics Larry reports on the clinics. Explanation about reasons why clinics were originally combined and then un-combined. On track for clinics that started this week (second round). Working with Bill Bethea on the final cost for the clinics based on the number of kids in the clinics. All is well and we’re on track. Got about 10 last minute registrations.
Want to revive the clinic for t-ball parents this year – giving an orientation about the league, which is also a good time to recruit volunteers! Mickey Grover ran this program last time two years ago. We’ll contact him and see what we can do about putting that together.
Will also want to repeat the positive coaching alliance program for new coaches for this year.
District Clinic – March 1 @ Robbinsville. Coaching Clinic (equivalent of Al & Al). All coaches/managers for this year should try to attend. Coaches should be advised. League will pay the $10 registration fee if registered in advance. Registration will be posted on the web site. Several sessions/times (see flyer). Larry will include details about connection between safety plan and attending coaching clinics. Ellen will try to include sign-up for this clinic on league registration.
Scholarships. The League sponsors 4 scholarships for a baseball & softball player each year from HSN and HSS. Have a nomination/application form. Seeking input from LL Board to evaluate the applicants for choosing the winners of the scholarships. Will be gathering information about how they participated in the WWLL both as a player and since then (e.g., umpiring, working concessions, etc.) Would like to present at awards day (June 13). Will also post information on the web site, including names of past winners. (Theresa Chao-Bergman is coordinating)
Post-Season Hosting (at Ward) - -Softball district 10s and 12s are available. Do we want to host one of these tournaments? June 28 is the start of 12-year-old tournament pool play. End date is July 11, which means that the final group would be the week leading up to July 11. If we want to host, we need to apply by Dec. 15. Ron would like to host the 10s, since he is the tournament director, and hosting it would make things very easy for him. Final 4 for 10s is July 10-20. Problem is having enough help locally, especially between games during the final tournament. Andy notes that taking a softball tournament will not impact whether we can also get a baseball tournament. Motion approved to apply for the softball 10s.
On baseball side, HTRBA will be hosting the sectionals, so that will be in our district. Chris suggests that we should apply for the 12s and if we don’t get the 12s (finals July 8-17). If we don’t get the 12s, we would take the 11s. (July 18-27).
Also on the baseball side, there are district “house” tournaments, but we have not traditionally put in for that because we want to focus our volunteers on Districts. 
Post Season Team Selection Discussion
Discussion of possible policy. Question about how much of a problem is it? Steve Lichtenstein notes the problem arises with boys who are in higher grade and want to play with school friends. Was a particular problem last year with the 8-year-olds. 
District teams are not really a problem – if a younger player was in the top 9 (or top 6) they should play up, particularly at the 11/12 district team. Chris’s suggestion about playing up being in the top 6 to make sure that the kids playing up will truly be “starters” on the team. More ambiguity with the 7, 8, 9 positions on the team because the younger kids will be more marginal on the team (substituted for, etc.). Before we tell an older kid gets bumped off the team in order to play up a younger kid, the younger kid should really be a “top” player on the team.
Ellen notes that the reason for a policy is to avoid the perception that the league changes the rules as they go, and that there are “back room” dealings. Andy clarifies that the rankings of the players are determined by the managers and coordinators based on season-wide rankings. It is supposed to be an open discussion about the talents of the kids. We would prefer not to do tryouts that form the basis of the rankings, because of the inherent problem of a one-day tryout serving as the basis for the selection process.
Discussion about whether there are really “stars” at lower age levels who need to play up in order to develop. Keeping with same age group is not a problem.
Issue of whether a kid who is being “bumped” from a higher age team has no option to play on a different team, while the younger kid can still play on the team with his own age group. Alternate issue is when we don’t have enough kids to make up a team.
Chris explains that there have been times when there were not enough 7s to fill out an all-star team, and we dip down to get some six’s. Some problem with 7’s who played AA (some kid-pitch), now does not want to go “down” to coach-pitch.
Opinion about whether it’s an issue of “district” teams vs. Tournament teams. Should there be a different rule applicable to the district team vs. the Tournament team.
Andy’s view is that District teams should be best it can be. Tournament teams should be most kids playing that you can play. (Note that once roster is set, manager has the discretion to play the kids however he wants.)
Andy – current policy is to play up at District Team level, but no playing up at Tournament teams level unless there is a need for calling up. Any “change” would have to be a motion to change the policy. (Kevin notes the need for a publication of the policy in order that there is no confusion in the future.)
First issue – playing up or not. Motion made to codify policy as being to allow playing up at District Team level only, and not playing up for 9, 8, and 7 year old Tournament teams unless there is a need to fill space on a team. “Top 9” for District Teams. Proposal passes approx. 15-3. (Option #2 from hand-out)
Publication on the web site. Motion to post this policy on the web site. Approved.
Number of kids on an all-star team. Chris makes a motion to establish a league policy that all-star teams should be 12 players, but allow the manager of the team to make a petition to the league coordinators/VP for why you “need” to have more than 12 kids on a team. Manager has the absolute discretion to limit the team to 12 players. If the manager wants more than 12, he must convince the league officers for why you want more than 12 and that it will work. League officials will have discretion, but will discourage managers from taking more than 12 kids.
Ted Phelan pointed out that at younger age levels, as long as there is a full batting order with free substitutions, it is easier to play with 13 or 14 players. May not be as much of a reason to limit the rosters for the younger age groups.
Goal here is to take pressure off the team manager based on the complaints from unhappy parents about their kid not getting enough playing time.
Contrary consideration is to let as many kids as possible have the experience of playing all-stars.
Option is to leave it to manager’s discretion as to how many players to have on the team without any league directive.
Motion is to have a strong league advice/policy for 12 at District team, but leaving to manager’s discretion for non-District Tournament teams. Approved.
Umpiring/Umpire Training: Clinics start Feb. 18. Every Wednesday for 5 weeks. Will be putting training program up on the web site. Will be recruiting umps this off season.
Will schedule a night for managers meeting w/ district umpires.
Tournament of Champions Will be posting on the web site. Dates from District 12 are posted. Majors coordinators will determine selection process for our representative to the TofC.
Merchandize. Nothing to report. Lots of batting helmets. Indoor facility cards are selling. We will be ordering umpire shirts for the district again.
ID card idea. There is a machine we could purchase for about $2000 plus cost of cards. Would include picture and laminated ID card. Total cost about $5 per child in the league. Open for additional discussion at future meetings. Andy will collect some additional information. More to think about.
Sponsorships. Andy is considering lowering the cost of sponsorships for upcoming season due to economy. Perhaps down to $400 from $450. Andy and Shawn will discuss the financial effect on the league.
Photo Day. Bob DeLorenzo (All Sport/Hamilton) gave a presentation for our league concerning team pictures. Andy notes that turn-around is important for us so that we get out the team pictures in May, not waiting for the awards day. This local company has availability to do make-up pictures if kids miss their team picture. Guarantees that we will have pictures on time on whatever date we say we need them. (Also will be sponsoring a team this year given anticipated need for extra sponsors.) Photo day is already scheduled for May 9, with expectation that we’ll get photos back for the weekend after Memorial Day. (suggestion that we could do photos on two weeknights rather than on one Saturday. This would allow for alternate dates.)
T-Ball. There is a different age level for T-ball for boys and girls. 5-years-olds are being allowed to register for t-ball. This means that at 6-year-olds will be playing A, then AA as a 7. Concerns about pre-K 5-year-olds playing t-ball.  Former rule was that t-ball needed to be 6 years old. One option would be to make kids who are 6, who played t-ball as 5s, repeat t-ball again as 6’s.
Mickey Grover (t-ball coordinator) would suggest that emails to parents should warn parents about risks of having younger kids playing t-ball.
Suggestion to go back to allowing 5-year-olds ONLY if they were in kindergarten (turned 5 by Oct.1) Will have to modify flyers/information. Policy is that kids must be 5 AND in Kindergarten. Approved
Web Site. Ellen reports for Bill and Andrew. If anyone wants to post something on the web site, must send a complete document (article). Ellen has the breakdown list of charges from Demosphere. There is a format for loading schedules into Demosphere from an Excel spreadsheet – but the data has to be in a particular format. Ellen will send htat out. Demosphere is working on adding a navigation bar to the top of our web site. Discussion of whether we would want to add an “age” box to the registration page on the web site, but it’s a “custom” item that would cost a significant amount, so it’s likely that we won’t be able to do it.
Program descriptions are up on the web site re: league descriptions. Ellen will hand out to coordinators the instruction manual for use of Demosphere. Call Ellen if you want more information or a tutorial on the use of the web site. Coordinators should try to make time to test/play with the system and become familiar with the features so that it is more intuitive by the time we really need to use the system in January/February when we’re making up the teams.
[adjourned 10:18]