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Posts Tagged ‘Central Whidbey Little League’

Central Whidbey’s John Rachal fires the ball back in during a playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Celebrating during a run to the state tourney are (l to r) Madison McMillan, Allison Nastali, Chloe Marzocca, and Savina Wells. (Photo by Jackie Saia)

Central Whidbey Little League finds itself at a crossroads.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented any games from being played this spring, and the future is hazy.

While CWLL is moving forward with the hope of returning its players to the diamond in 2021, a looming crisis involving a lack of volunteers could become a major issue.

Despite being the smallest league in the region, with 90-100 players, Central Whidbey is required to have the same compliment of board members and volunteers as bigger leagues.

North and South Whidbey, Anacortes, La Conner, Sedro-Woolley, and Burlington have larger parent bases to draw from, while CWLL has had to scramble to fill all of its positions in recent years.

That may get harder very soon, unless a new generation steps up.

“CWLL finds itself in a very challenging position,” said President Gordon McMillan. “Probably not unlike many other non-profits and youth organizations in these unique times.

“And we are facing another huge challenge; the majority of the current board and volunteers have children (or grandchildren in my case!) that are “aging out” of little league in the next year or so,” he added.

“We have very few volunteers that have younger kids playing; with no line of succession, it is clear, in my opinion, CWLL may very well not survive.”

If Central Whidbey is unable to fully staff up, its players might have to try and latch on with North or South Whidbey in the near future, something which could prove difficult – especially if those organizations decide they can’t handle the influx.

“This would be tragic,” McMillan said.

The league president would hate to see Coupeville’s ballfields sit silent.

“CWLL has by far the most beautiful setting,” McMillan said. “I like to call Rhody Park our “Field of Dreams.”

“Island County Parks have been very accommodating and generous in their support of CWLL and it should be duly noted. Rhody belongs to all of us … and the county should be recognized!”

Baseball and softball have a place deep in McMillan’s heart, a big part of the reason he and others have worked so hard to make CWLL the success it is today.

“Little League has touched so many of our lives, the vast majority in a positive manner, I believe,” he said.

“Not every child can play football or basketball, but I venture a guess that every child has picked up a ball, a bat, a glove, and played some sort of baseball/softball/Wiffle ball … neighborhood … sandlot … school PE … or little league.”

For McMillan, little league made an impact on his life, first as a player, then as a coach and official through two generations of his offspring.

“Little League has been a passion of mine since 1956, when I first “made the team” in North Vancouver, BC,” he said.

“I have coached three of my kids and one granddaughter (Madison) and only hope they have, or will have, the same warm and wonderful memories as I have, and look back someday, not remembering the wins and losses, but the fun, camaraderie, and life lessons

“Then, and only then, did we, as coaches, umpires, administrators, concession operators, field maintenance crews, score keepers, spectators, etc. do a good job!”

 

If you’d like to become a volunteer, or have any suggestions for CWLL officials as they navigate the waters ahead, contact McMillan at centralwhidbeyll@gmail.com.

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Da champs. Top to bottom, starting on left, are Brendan Coleman, Aaron Curtin, Aaron Trumbull, Carson Risner, Kurtis Smith, Ben Etzell, Korbin Korzan, Brian Norris, Morgan Payne, Jake and Chris Tumblin, Wade Schaef, Paul Schmakeit, Kyle Bodamer.

July 24, 2010 – the day Coupeville shocked the baseball world. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

It remains one of the enduring moments in prairie sports history.

Thirteen Coupeville boys and four coaches shocked the baseball world in 2010, knocking off all-star teams from bigger towns, rallying for win after win to claim a state title.

In the finale, on Saturday, July 24, the Central Whidbey Little League Juniors (13-14) squad scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, then one more in the tenth to beat West Valley 10-9.

The winning run came when Aaron Trumbull lashed an infield single, plating Jake Tumblin.

It was the first-ever state title for a team coming out of District 11 (Skagit and Island counties), and the team largely stayed together afterwards.

Eight of the 13 players would go on to play four years of baseball at Coupeville High School, and every one of the players owns a diploma from the school.

As the 10-year anniversary approaches, head coach Chris Tumblin looks back fondly on one of his favorite summers:

The 2010 season was such a fun time as a coach and I have so many fond memories.

My wife Shannon had one word for that team – “family”.

The players were like a team of brothers but the parents were as much a part of the family as they were.

They never complained when I asked them to make sure the kids were there at least two hours before the game started to make sure we were able to get them ready to play.

The marathon practices that were officially over but continued because the players still wanted to have more batting practice.

The unwavering support they gave to the coaches and the players during home, away, and playoff games was second to none.

As you know the league president was Bob Martin. That guy went above and beyond my expectations, especially when we went to state.

I remember sitting with the umpires and league officials before the games started, going over each kids eligibility paperwork and finding a problem.

Sitting in Spokane I thought we were not going to have all our players eligible, but Bob went to work and got the needed paperwork by fax or email or carrier pigeon; I’m still not sure how, but we played with all players.

I always felt more at ease when he was there and he was always there.

One of the things that was always mentioned by the other coaches, umpires and parents of the other teams was how respectful our players were.

We had a team of confident players and they never talked trash or were arrogant; they played a sport they loved and they always played till the last out.

They never got behind and lost the will to win, never dwelled on a bad at-bat, never stopped believing that this was their season.

Having coaches that were having as much fun as the kids was also a plus.

Ramon (Villaflor), Brad (Trumbull), and Mike (Etzell) were fun to work with.

Taking time to coach takes a lot of time out of our schedules, missing work, first to get to the field and last to leave and all the meetings in between.

I can’t thank them enough for their commitment.

We played a lot of great games, and I was pleasantly surprised when we ran the winners bracket to the championship game.

That last day was very hot and we played a doubleheader but we lost the first game.

During intermission they were giving free chili dogs to the players and I wouldn’t let our players have any because you are what you eat and I didn’t want them to play like a team of chili dogs.

We went back to the hotel; I asked for a conference room and sat them down at a table and told them to figure out what happened.

To talk it over as a team and figure what they need to do to turn it around and then all the coaches left for the next 30 minutes.

When time was up we gathered the kids and went back to the field; they obviously had a plan.

We know what happened during the final game — several lead changes, extra innings, the other team coach and parents complaining about how hard our parents were rooting with every pitch.

The last two plays stick out in my head more than anything else.

Jake got in a pickle between second and third base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th; I thought the inning was over, but he ran it out and made it to third.

Aaron Trumbull at the plate hit a high bouncer between the third-baseman and short; there wasn’t even an attempt to throw Aaron out at first and Jake easily scored.

Let the celebration begin.

I can’t begin to express how lucky I was to be able to be a part of that season; we were the underdogs from the beginning.

People asked us how many teams we were pulling from to make the all-star team; they never believed me when I said we only have one and that we only had one stop light in the entire town.

We won that season not only because of the players on the field, it was also due to the support of a community!

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Katie Marti and friends will return to the diamond. Not this spring, but at some point. (Photo by Jackie Saia)

Central Whidbey Little League officially cancelled the 2020 spring season Thursday afternoon.

With the COVID-19 pandemic having shut down much of society, the decision was not unexpected.

The league is offering three options for those who had registered their children to play baseball or softball.

Refunds will be issued upon request, or parents can choose to roll over this year’s registration fee and use it for the 2021 season.

If registration prices go up next year, those who roll over this year’s payment will NOT be required to pay the difference.

A third option is donating this year’s registration fee to CWLL, with your money being used to help the league continue to function.

Those who have registered should receive an email Thursday from the league concerning their options.

“Please know that CWLL and its Board of Directors and our many volunteers are as disappointed as most of you and your children are regarding this season,” said CWLL President Gordon McMillan.

“Please also know, that it is our firm commitment and intention that our league will be fully prepared to enjoy the 2021 season and beyond!,” he added.

“If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at centralwhidbeyll@gmail.com and I will respond to the best of my ability.”

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A new season of Central Whidbey Little League action approaches. (Jackie Saia photo)

Spring approaches, but little league action will probably beat it in getting here.

Central Whidbey Little League hosts its second, and final, skills and registration camp this coming Saturday, February 22 from 10 AM-noon at the CHS gym.

The event is open to children ages 5-15 who live in Central Whidbey (Coupeville and Greenbank), and includes all age groups (T-Ball, baseball, and fastpitch softball).

Parents are encouraged to register their children at the league’s site — https://www.centralwhidbeylittleleague.com/ — or at the skills camp.

For Saturday’s event, players are asked to wear athletic clothing and “good gym shoes.”

It’s recommended they bring their baseball and softball gear, if they have it, though some will be provided for those in need.

The league also hosts its annual field work party Mar. 14, a time when the ball fields at Rhododendron Park (502 W. Patmore Rd.) will be primed for play.

Volunteers are welcome and needed.

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Central Whidbey Little League needs softball and baseball coaches. (Jackie Saia photo)

Now’s the time to get in the game.

With spring approaching, Central Whidbey Little League is in dire need of coaches for its baseball and softball teams.

CWLL is looking for 4-5 more volunteers, who will primarily be working with players in the 8-10 age group.

If interested, contact CWLL President Gordon McMillan at (206) 550-7146.

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