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My Little League® Registration Memories


My Little League® Registration Memories
By Rick Carter, Maugansville Little League

My first Little League® registration experience as a parent was in 1986. My oldest son, Chad, was 6 years old then. We were both anxious to sign up for Tee Ball. I must admit I was also a little bit nervous. We had wanted to be part of the Little League that I had played in and graduated from as a 12-year old in 1965. My love for Little League Baseball® had come from the West End Little League in Hagerstown Md. I had an amazing manager, Coach Kershner, and he taught me to love the game and the players. Looking back, it was Coach Kershner who planted the seed that one day I would want to coach. I learned from the best.

Unfortunately, Chad was not able to play at my old league because we were living just outside of the league’s boundary. So, we were off to Maugansville Little League, a league I would come to love. Chad and I were on our way to registration. I remember it being held in the kitchen of the local Ruritan Club. We filled out our information on a 3 x 5 index card and forked over a whole five dollars, which was not even called a registration fee. It was a hat fee! The whole process took only about 10 minutes. It would have only taken two minutes, but we were the first to get to registration, and arrived before the door was unlocked. We were obviously excited!

Once we got in, a gentlemen asked if I would be interested in managing a Tee Ball team. I had some previous coaching experience, and the thought of being on the same field with Chad made the decision an easy one. I agreed on the spot. I was cleared to coach, went through Tee Ball training, and we were on our way. That season was so much fun.

The second year of registration was little different from the first. It was busier as we were a growing league and more people were there. What didn’t change, though, was the excitement that registration day was here. Baseball was beginning!

As the years went by, our league continued to grow, as did my role. I wanted to get even more involved so I was elected as a Board member. With that, registration became slightly different because I had jobs to do, but I remember the community feel of registration did not change one bit. Old friends and some new acquaintances provided for a fun, social experience. We still had a low fee of $20 but it was now called a Registration Fee, and we had fundraisers scheduled. After people registered, they hung out, asked questions, and shared their memories, and hopes for another successful season.

As the years went by, Derrick, Chad’s younger brother had gone through Tee Ball and Minors. His experience was the same as his older brother’s. He loved it. I remember all of my registrations, but there’s one that really stands out. We were registering Chad for the Major team he was already on, and Derrick was registering for Majors as well. It was very exciting because both of the boys would be on the same team, the team I managed! What a special treat for a parent!

The next few years, my feelings at registration were the same, always excited for Little League to start. Our registration had grown out of the kitchen and, now we were in the main room of the Ruritan! There were more forms to fill out, but while registration may have become a bit slower because of the added work and increase in players, we worked hard to make sure the socializing aspect at registration continued. That’s important for parents because everyone needs to feel like they belong. They need to know they are being welcomed into the Little League family.

When Chad was 13, he was going to try out for Senior League (13 through 15 year olds). We were excited he was going to be playing on the big field. Our league was still growing, and we did not want registration to lose all of the important handshakes and stories, so we really focused on getting as many people as possible to pre-register. That way, during our registration day, we could spend time answering questions so our parents were updated on all the important information. It worked. It was great to look around and see all these parents being so friendly and coming together for the players. We were a family. It was so nice to be part of it.

It seemed like I blinked, and all of a sudden, little brother Derrick was trying out for Senior League, and if he made it, he just may be on the team with his brother Chad again. He ended up making it. I felt very proud of my sons. It was a time that I will never forget, both boys on the regulation size field!

Since it provided such a great experience, we wanted to stay with Little League, all the way through its divisions. I remember not being able to believe Chad was trying out for Big League. Chad was only 16, and would be playing with older, stronger kids, so I was a little worried. But, we stuck together, he worked hard, had fun and played well. Interestingly, I realize now Big League was my favorite division. Two more years went by, and now Derrick was old enough to try out for Big League. Where did the time go? I knew my two sons would probably play on the same team for the last time. Registration that year was a mixed bag of feelings. My Little League time was most likely coming close to an end. Or, so I thought.

I remained as a manager of Little League and now, my stepsons were playing so there were a few more registrations. I always felt excited to register new players to the league and meet them and their parents. Whenever I could, I would share my stories of coaching my sons and so many other great kids.

As my stepson, JD, was in his first year of Senior League and his younger brother Michael was playing in the Junior Division (the only Little League division I never managed), we were blessed with a son Nicholas. I stayed involved with Little League, and registrations were busy times for Nicholas, the little guy scrambling all around. He grew up around the league and with me coaching, it was little wonder that when he started playing Tee Ball, he wanted to coach more than he wanted to play.

Nicholas is now 12, and as registration approaches I must admit that, after all of these years, this might be the first registration I am not overly excited about. Nicholas has decided that he may not want to play on after Majors. I hope he changes his mind, but it is his decision. You see, he still wants to coach more than he wants to play. That is not a bad thing, but it may be my last registration year. It has been a good run, and I would not trade it for anything. As I write this, I just had a conversation with one of my assistant coaches who, by the way, played Little League for me for four years, about this probably being my last year. I asked him if he’d apply to manage the team next year.

If I could advise parents about registration, it would be to make sure you have all the paperwork and items you need so when you arrive, you will not be too busy to enjoy the registration process and take time to know all the league officials and other parents. Be part of the local Little League family. Enjoy it while you can. It will end sometime.

- Coach Carter

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