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Mid Carolina Little League

Mid Carolina Little League

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20

Oct, 2021

MCLL Submits letter to Little League International for Boundary Change

Mid Carolina Little League

PO Box 67

Peak, SC 29122

 

October 20, 2021

 

Brian Weseman

Little League International

539 US Route 15 Hwy, PO Box 3485

Williamsport, PA 17701-0485

 

Dear Little League International,

Mid Carolina Little League has been a volunteer run organization since 1971 when they fielded their first Dixie Youth Baseball all-star team.  Named for the Mid Carolina High School that most of our players attend, this organization has provided the Mid Carolina area a baseball program for over 50 consecutive years.  Mid Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball grew to their peak in 2012.  It was in 2012 that Newberry County and the Town of Prosperity wanted a government run league instead of a volunteer run league.  In between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, MCDYB decided to move to Little League and become Mid Carolina Little League as it is presently known.  The move was prompted when DYB awarded the Town of Prosperity a separate franchise inside of the MCDYB boundary.

Since 2013, MCLL has received nothing but the best support from Little League International.  This support is why MCLL is sending the attached request to expand our boundaries and help us remain a Little League organization.

The Newberry County area that makes up our territory is extremely rural with only 2,975 elementary kids spread over 650 square miles.  In our county, there are three baseball organizations (MCLL, MCDYB and Clinton DYB), along with countless travel ball teams that are trying to share these same kids.  MCLL had only 120 kids in 2021 that played over three age groups (coaches pitch, minors, and majors).  75 of the 120 kids were in our coaches pitch age group.  This is a great foundation for the future years but has also made the MCLL board look at the health of our league and think about the future.

After several meetings, the MCLL board has come to the realization that we have two options for moving forward with the 2022 spring baseball season.  Neither of the options includes the status quo.  Something will have to change to allow MCLL to continue being an option for the youth of our community.  So, what are our options?

  1. Join the existing DYB organization run by Newberry County and combine our leagues to create the numbers necessary to run a full league.
  2. Expand our current Little League territory to gain more kids.

The first option is one that the MCLL board has explored in recent months.  A newly elected county councilman ran on the idea of bringing the county baseball organizations back together.  As a state representative for umpires in the DYB organization, this would include the combined leagues being under the DYB banner.  Through research and following all-star tournaments this past year, our board has found the DYB option very attractive.  As a previous DYB organization, there is a lot of appeal to going back to join the oldest existing DYB organization in the state of South Carolina.

               Nostalgia is not the only reason the MCLL board has considered a return to DYB.  In the state of South Carolina, DYB has many more options and leagues.  A look in our district shows the difference between Little League and Dixie Youth.  In our current Little League district, we have three organizations: Mid Carolina, Irmo and Trenholm.  In the current Dixie Youth district, there are seven leagues.  There are only six districts in our state in Little League versus eleven in Dixie Youth.  Although we prefer the out of state experience of Little League, our state is way behind Dixie Youth.

               Our area is also a major competitive disadvantage compared to the other Little League organizations in our state due to the rural nature of our territory.  With only 2,975 kids in our boundary, we are very small compared to the likes of Irmo LL, Trenholm LL, Summerville LL, Greenville LL and Northwood LL just to name a few.  Northwood LL, for example, won every baseball state championship this year that they entered.  DYB on the other hand limits an organization/all-star team to only ten teams in an age group.  This helps to even the playing field for smaller, more rural areas like Newberry County.

               For all the reasons listed above, moving to DYB is still an option for our league.  But we are choosing to write this letter in hopes that we can continue to be a Little League organization.  Our second option, the expansion of our boundaries, is the one that our board has decided is the best option for our league.  We have built on the strong foundation that was established while a DYB organization.  In the last eight years, we have taken this league to another level that continues to thrive, even with all the odds stacked against us.

               Our league is still volunteer run.  Our league is producing the best baseball players in our area (90% of the middle and high school teams are made up of Little League alums).  And even though MCDYB, run by Newberry County, is larger, they have not been able to create the community feel nor the retention that MCLL has created.  Where MCLL lacks in a central facility large enough to accommodate a full league, we have exceeded in our community relations.  MCLL plays at three fields scattered over the Mid Carolina High School area: one in Pomaria, one in Little Mountain and one in Stoney Hill.  The communities that we are apart of continually show up for games and pack the stands on game nights.  The communities are also heavily involved in our fundraising efforts which has allowed us to keep our fees lower than most in our state.  It is this community feel that we are excited to take to the other areas of our proposed expansion.

               After much consideration and research, MCLL would like to propose a boundary change that would include the Chapin High School area, outlined in the attached exhibit, as an addition to our current boundary of Newberry County.  As previously stated, most of our players (95 out of 120) are zoned for Mid Carolina High School, one of three high schools in Newberry County.  Mid Carolina High School is positioned on the southeastern side of the county, along the Lexington and Newberry County line.  Chapin High School is on the northwest side of Lexington County along the same Lexington and Newberry County line.  Mid Carolina and Chapin High Schools have long been high school football rivals because of our rural nature and close proximity (less than 10 miles apart).  The town of Chapin is where most of our families go to do their grocery shopping.  Our area of Newberry County is just an extension of the Chapin area.

               In 2015, our community made state news for a baseball accomplishment that had not happen in almost 80 years in South Carolina.  This was the first time in almost eight decades that a team from South Carolina won the American Legion World Series.  Chapin/Newberry Post 193/24 was the team that accomplished what no team had in a long time.  This baseball connection was established a long time ago and still runs deep inside our community.

We already have several kids that have gained waivers to play at MCLL from the Chapin area.  But it wasn’t until we started a fall ball league for coaches pitch last fall that we realized the true youth baseball connection.  In our first fall ball league ever, we were able to field six coaches pitch teams.  Of the 60+ kids we had in the league, over 15 came from the Chapin area.  Many asked about joining the league and we let them all know that they are welcome, but we would need to get a waiver approved.  This year, we have had over ten additional kids, different from last year, that have come out to our fall ball league.  The interest we have gotten from the Chapin area has been done with no advertising, but only by word of mouth between the two communities.

As part of our proposal for the Chapin area to be added to MCLL, we know that Irmo Little League will be adversely affected by your decision to change the boundary lines.  However, it is our opinion that the growth potential of our league, the proximity of the Chapin community to our league, and not losing another Little League organization in South Carolina, far outweigh the minimal effect it will have on Irmo Little League. 

The disparity between MCLL and ILL is astonishing when you look at boundary population and how it correlates to league size and success.  The fact that MCLL can compete in any year, at any level with ILL is a testament to the type of program that we run at MCLL.  Below are a couple of staggering numbers that show the disparity between the two leagues.

  • Mid Carolina LL population
    • 120 players in the league
    • Total Elementary population in Mid Carolina HS (primary population) – 1,142 kids
    • Total Elementary population in Newberry Co. (our territory) – 2,975 kids
      • This includes 237 from Whitmire that play in Clinton for Dixie Youth
      • This number also includes another Dixie Youth league that accounts for 300+ kids
  • Irmo LL population
    • 586 players in the league
    • Total Elementary population in Irmo and Dutch Fork HS (primary population) – 5,558 kids
    • Total Elementary population in full territory – 24,000+ kids
      • Chapin – 1,760 kids
      • Lexington/Gilbert – 13,432 kids

This past year Irmo had almost six times as many kids in their league as MCLL.  The primary population areas reflect this same difference in kids.  The total territory area for Irmo has over 20,000 more kids to choose from than what MCLL currently has available.  These numbers show the uphill climb that an already rural community faces when trying to compete and grow the league.

               Irmo LL will almost certainly claim that they have invested time, effort, and money into the Chapin area to try to grow their brand and awareness in that community.  It is our understanding that they have around 160 kids from the Chapin area.  While we cannot argue the commitment that they have put towards Chapin, we can ask why they have not put the same commitment towards a larger area in the Lexington, W. Columbia, and Gilbert areas.  These areas are the same distance to their facilities as the Chapin area, yet they only have around 30 kids from this area. 

               MCLL believes that by including the Chapin area into our boundaries, it will not be detrimental to Irmo but offer Irmo an opportunity to grow in another direction.  Chapin only has 1,760 kids in the proposed area to be transferred from Irmo LL to MCLL.  The addition of the boundary will be a 60% increase to the elementary population for MCLL but will be less than a 10% decrease to the Irmo LL elementary population.

I think we can all agree that the numbers speak for themselves in the increase of the boundary.  However, we are not talking about numbers, we are talking about kids.  Kids that have friends, family, and coaches that they make bonds with through the sport of baseball.  And we are not talking about a tally of 160 people but 160 bonds that have been created at Irmo LL.  We are not proposing that these kids be forced to leave Irmo LL, but rather they be given the option to continue to play with their friends and for their coaches.  And moving forward, our organization would support any waiver that is requested from the Chapin area to play at Irmo LL.  This is not an us versus them request.  But rather, this is a plea to Little League to help us to push towards 60 years as a volunteer run program.  Without this change, we cannot continue to run a league for a single age group.  This is a request to bring the communities of Mid Carolina and Chapin back together.

               As a show of unity, we would also discuss a name change to be inclusive of the Chapin area.  Should we be granted the new boundary request, we would go to work on a new name, an inclusive board and additional field options.  We have already started our conversations to acquire field space in Chapin to help accommodate the community.  We are asking that you help us truly integrate the Chapin community into the Little League family.  The increased boundary will also give us the opportunity to start a softball program which is lacking in the Newberry and Chapin area.

               Thank you for your consideration and help to continuing as a Little League International organization.  We are excited what the next ten years look like for a Mid Carolina/Chapin Little League.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Mid Carolina Little League Board

Contact

Mid Carolina Little League
Mid Carolina Little League, PO Box 67
Peak, South Carolina 29122

Phone: 803-924-9933
Email: [email protected]

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