“We are planning for another fantastic year,” said Virgin Valley Little League (VVLL) President Dan Wright. “We had 11 teams our first year, 16 our second and 26 teams last year. For 2016 we are planning for over 30, especially on the girls softball side. Our Board of Directors are meeting almost weekly to make the league more family friendly by arranging game schedules so more family members can attend. Our plan is to have 18 boys and 12 girls teams. The girls will have three age groups instead of two like last year.”
When asked what has contributed to the phenomenal growth, Wright answered, “success. We had two successful years which made families aware of the new league. The community has gripped ‘America’s Game” and is completely behind what we are doing. In my mind, our mission statement is to provide an opportunity for youth to learn the game of baseball and softball. They are learning teamwork and getting along with coaches before they move on to high school.”
“Our biggest obstacle again is the lack of umpires. We have a base of 12 individuals and need to double that amount. Sponsorship of teams has not been a problem as we have had extra sponsors available the past three years despite our growth. The sponsor fees are reasonable at $500 per year and we hope to keep it at that number.”
When asked about how the league got to the point of success Wright said, “if it wasn’t for Lou Martin’s love of the sport, we wouldn’t be here. He had a vision in 2012 of organized baseball in the valley. He took the idea and ran with it. Bringing the Elks and the City of Mesquite together as the main sponsors got the ball rolling. The City had the facilities and the Elks meeting space and financial help which made for a good marriage. Our first organizational meeting was held at the Elks Lodge with members from the community, the Elks and the city who all agreed with the vision. That first meeting created the desire to succeed. Our first Board of Directors consisted of Lou Martin as President, Geno Withhelder, Troy Tanner, Brian Fanning, Marco Ruelas, Nick Montoya Vice-President, Tom and Paula Richardson, Ed Koch, Bob Snell and Shelley Stenberg. I was fortunate to be asked to be treasurer.”
The league seems to be in good hands as expressed in the emotions emitting from Wright’s face as he was all smiles.
Early registration for the upcoming 2016 Little League season is underway and runs through Jan. 31, 2016. Registration and financial assistance is available through the VVLL. Costs are $40 for the first familial child, $35 for the second child and $30 for the third child. Costs increase on Feb. 1, 2016 so parents and guardians are encouraged to sign up early.
Financial assistance is also available through the Kids For Sports Foundation. Applications are available at the Recreation Center or online at www.kidsforsportsfoundation.org.
If anyone is interested in volunteering, umpiring and/or coaching, please contact the Mesquite Recreation Center for more information at 702-346-8732.
(Editor’s note: Lou Martin, MLN Sports Reporter contributed to this article.)