Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Parks takes over youth league

Leader sportswriter

Cabot Parks and Recreation is now overseeing Cabot youth baseball following a shaky transition within the Cabot Youth Baseball Association.

Problems stemmed from scheduling problems and questionable game times to uniform mishaps and disputes between coaches and board members. Some games in the spring were scheduled in the middle of standardized testing at Cabot Public Schools.

That led to a series of complaints from parents, who grew impatient with the string of incidents over the last few years.

The Parks and Recreation department recommended to the Parks Commission thatit take charge of the program following an investigation by Parks program director Joe Ferguson.

“Over the past couple of years, the mayor’s office, Cabot parks and rec and certain city council members would hear different complaints,” Ferguson said. “It got to be where I was asked to dive into it this year to see if there was any meat and potatoes to it and to compile a report.”

The vote went unanimously in favor of Ferguson, director Larry Tarrant and the commission to take over the program at last Tuesday’s meeting. The parks commission has been in charge of the youth basketball program since its inception, and plans on running the baseball program in similar fashion from registration and scheduling done in house.

“I think over the years, what’s happened is you have people that served time on the board who knew how to run a baseball program but just got tired of doing it,” Ferguson said. “The problem was, there was no one there who had experience underneath them to pick up the pieces. They had a bunch of inexperienced people trying as hard as they could, and their volunteer hours were awesome, but they did not necessarily know how to run the program.”

Ferguson said the change will not affect the fall baseball program, where complete teams sign up and provide their own uniforms. The parks department is responsible only for fields, umpires and game times for the fall, making spring and summer baseball the primary focus for improvement.

“Once we get through the fall season, then we’re going to mainstream what changes need to be made with the spring and summer seasons,” Ferguson said. “The biggest issue was, we’ve played Cal Ripken for the past several years, so you had a set of Cal Ripken rules and a set of Cabot rules, and some coaches were confused on what to go by. We’re going to make everything simpler and a lot easier to follow.

“If they have a question, they can come to the community center, and someone will be there five days a week to give them an answer.”

Ferguson said the plan for now is to oversee the program for at least the next two to three years, with the ability to increase the staff as it grows. Mayor Bill Cypert has pledged city support for any necessary expansion, including funds for added personnel.

“It’s going to add a huge chunk of pie to my already full plate,” Ferguson said. “But, we have a great staff there with Parks and Rec. We help each other daily to do different tasks and issues we have that come up.”