Land Park Pacific Little League kicked off season, new president speaks about recent developments

Photos by Monica Stark
Little League Parade / by Monica Stark

The Land Park Pacific Little League season kicked off Saturday, March 14 with the annual parade, which began bright and early in William Land Park and ended at the beautifully revamped Dooley Fields.
Opening day ceremonies were spectacular and emcee’d by the league’s very own parent, coach and local celebrity, News10 Anchor, Walt Gray. Notable attendees were Councilman Steve Hansen who threw out the first pitch, as well as Kevin Schanz, whose father Charles Schanz was the original groundskeeper for Dooley Field. Several past LPPLL alum were in attendance as well. This past season 2014, LPPLL sent teams of All-Stars on to play District-Wide and 2 came out District championship winners, the 9-10 and 11-12 teams. This year, there is a total of 43 baseball and five softball teams and 587 players.
Dedicated to promoting and embracing the partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance, the league’s new president Karen Leon thanks numbers people in the community for their dedication in making the LPPLL experience “the best it can be. Parents, community members, the board of directors, businesses, and residents all are willing to lend a hand whenever and wherever needed.”
Karen has one son, Jax Leon, age 9 who, she said, enjoys playing for his AA Hooks Team this season. “He looks forward to the comraderie, meeting new teammates and the great french fries at the snack shack.”
To Karen, youth sports are such an incredible time for kids and families. They provide so many opportunities to learn valuable life lessons, she said. Unfortunately, more and more kids are quitting sports, and particularly baseball because they aren’t having fun and that, she said, “is a trend that needs to stop.”
“Our culture has become one that is focused on the final scoreboard and that winning is all that matters. Unfortunately, this is a shortsighted view that can rob kids and adults from having the opportunity to become better athletes and better people.
“(The LPPLL has) partnered with PCA because we believe that kids deserve an opportunity to play the game for the love of the game and to continue to learn and develop not only as players, but as people. If we can all work together to create a culture at Land Park Pacific Little League that is all about the kids and their development, we will help these kids have fun, become better ball players, continue to come back to play again, and develop the skills to thrive in life. I want to do my best to ensure that we have an outstanding 2015 season and do my part in making The LPPLL Experience a fun and positive learning and development zone for our kids and parents,” Karen said.
“One of PCA’s philosophies is that coaches coach, players play, parents cheer and officials officiate,” she added.
After 10 years, Dooley Fields have been re-done to grand measures that LPPLL folks are proud of.
Karen discussed the recent work that has been done to revamp Dooley Fields as follows: “The fields have been re-done over the last 10 years, but never to the extent that we just completed. This field project started last off season in September with over a month of researching, planning, and carefully choosing turf and dirt. The real work began in October when both fields were scraped down and about 12 inches of dirt was removed due to years of field chalk buildup underneath (We now have switched to water base field paint only). Next, 280 yards of custom mix infield dirt composed of a 60/40 blend was carefully chosen to not include any foreign debris or excess rock. Each field was professionally laser leveled for the exact dimensions and specifications recommended by Little League International in Williamsport. The infield dirt was also applied using a special tractor drag that was remotely laser operated to spread the dirt to make sure it was leveled evenly. We also dug up, repaired and moved our irrigation patterns (field sprinklers) to ensure that they were placed evenly to cover/water efficiently without waste or over coverage to areas not needed.
“On Nov. 21, the turf/grass that was grown specifically for this project was cut and installed, and is a Bermuda overseeded with Rye. It was chosen to be best for our Land Park specific Dooley facility grounds conditions. It is hardy, sturdy and classic. The Bermuda is hardy and sturdy and the Rye pops up and through the Bermuda and gives it the perfect green blades that can be mowed to a specific 1 inch hight with a greens mower. It is the same blend from the same grower as River Cats, and Dooley’s pitching mounds were also designed and built by the same crew that has done work for the River Cats.
“I was blessed to have found the masters at their crafts for each category of tasks for this project, who were willing to provide labor and materials at a fraction of the regular cost. I couldnt be happier with the outcome. With proper care and maintenance, these fields will last another 20 years or more.
“I am extremely excited about this season at our own little field of dreams!”
LPPLL is host to the District 7 Challenger Games on April 26 with games being played from 12:30-3 p.m. This year’s annual pancake breakfast fundraiser will be held on May 2 from 8 to 11 a.m. For only $5 a plate, you get fresh, hot-off-the-griddle pancakes, sausages, fruit, coffee, juice served up at Dooley Field Snack Shack with plenty of extra seating for the event. The highlight is always the raffle. Creative raffle baskets donated by LPPLL teams always are a hit with each individual teams uniquely chosen themed items. The home run derby is May 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. The Dooley Championship Series begins May 16-30 with LPPLL Majors and AAA Teams vying for a spot to represent the league in the 2015 District level TOCs. LPPLL will host the District 7 9-10 All Stars Tournament June 27.

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