On the baseball side of things, Centennial has seen a 20 percent increase in players. And after joining forces with the former Sparks Fastpitch Softball, there has been a 10 percent increase of players on the softball diamond.
“We’ve probably had our fastest growth this year than what we’ve experienced in the past,” SCLL President Steven Howe said. “We’re a little bit ahead of pace of where we wanted to be. We’re at about 1,000 kids this year with baseball having 700 and softball 300. Our original plan was to double our size in five years and we went from 500 to 1,000 this year and we hope to double that again by 2,017.”
A large help to the immediate success of the first step toward the 2017 initiative was the accumulation of softball. Although Howe said Centennial was a bit concerned about the initial venture to add softball to SCLL, he said the results have been beyond encouraging.
“At first we were really apprehensive and nervous about the transition of adding softball, but everything we’ve heard though from the softball parents about the Little League brand and the differences that they’ve seen, they all like it,” Howe said. “They like that Centennial has a strong board and a strong volunteer group. They like the structure of Centennial and a lot of that just comes from the Little League umbrella and the things that Little League does as a whole.
“I haven’t heard one negative. I haven’t heard one parent say ‘Oh, I wish we hadn’t switched.’ It’s all been 100 percent positive and I’m willing to bet anybody that softball next year explodes. It’s just been a great year for softball. The kids and the parents have had fun. The organization has gone well and all of the things that we expected out of the girls, we got and more. It’s been fantastic.”
With the league doubling its numbers ahead of schedule, the addition of two new fields at Golden Eagle Regional Park was a welcome site in order to alleviate field usage.
“We’re still trying to figure that all out because we got the fields halfway through the season, but next year it’s going to be great,” Howe said. “This year we still haven’t gotten everything out of it just because it was behind schedule a little bit. I can tell you that planning for next year, it is just going to ease everything. We’re going to be able to rest the fields at Shadow Mountain so the grass can grow a little better earlier on in the season. Anytime you can rest those dirt fields and let the grass grow and germinate, I think the fields will be much healthier for that reason and better off during the season.”
Another area that the new fields have helped Sparks Centennial is with profits as SCLL has been running the snack bar at Golden Eagle. While that has presented a nice revenue source, the benefits of the new fields also take place after the games as well.
“The two new fields are a tremendous help simply because it lessens our volunteer time. We don’t have to go out and do field work and take care of those things, which our volunteers spend a tremendous time doing at Shadow Mountain,” Howe said. “Putting in all that extra time takes a lot of energy out of the momentum that we would normally have and by the end of the season we lose all of that because people are just tired. It’s a tough job so the fields definitely help in that regard.”
Sparks Centennial will soon showcase all if its baseball softball players in the Sparks Little League City Tournament at Golden Eagle from June 3-11.