Jackie Robinson West Little League in Chicago to Add Softball, Challenger Programs for 2011 Season
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Sept. 15, 2010) – Jackie Robinson West Little League, located on the South side of Chicago was chartered in 1971. Throughout the past 40 years, it has become a social and cultural hub as well as an athletic outlet for neighborhood children and adult volunteers.
Such long-term success has established Jackie Robinson West Little League as a cornerstone of its community, and in 2011, that same commitment will benefit more children with the addition of Little League Softball (for girls league-age 4-to-12), and Challenger Division teams for the physically and mentally disabled.
A program currently chartered and operating through the Little League Urban Initiative (LLUI), Jackie Robinson West Little League participated in the annual LLUI Jamboree (2008) when it was hosted at Little League International in South Williamsport, and last year was host for the inaugural Urban Initiative Illinois State Jamboree.
“Jackie Robinson West Little League is a proud league and serves its community well,” Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, said. “Last year, the league celebrated its 40th opening day with a parade that drew nearly 7,500 spectators, and in the regular season played more than 550 games before turning its attention to the postseason.”
The league has enjoyed consistent success on the field and experienced cohesiveness in its leadership which has resulted in the league’s ability to field baseball teams from Tee Ball through the Junior Division. Despite being displaced from its field site last year, the league continued to thrive and did well during tournament season.
“Last year, all four of the league’s all-star teams reached the Illinois state tournament in their respective divisions,” Mr. Ervin said. “With such a legacy, chartering softball and Challenger programs makes sense, but more importantly adding these divisions will help provide the Little League experience to more children.
“A similar formula can work for other leagues,” Mr. Ervin said. “I encourage all of them to consider bringing softball and Challenger teams into their leagues.”
In four decades of service to its community, Jackie Robinson West Little League has maintained a solid base through the leadership of several committed individuals. The willingness of the league’s board of directors to recognize the opportunity to better serve its neighborhood is a primary reason for making these programs available.
“I have been associated with Jackie Robinson West Little League my entire life and there has never been a time the kids have needed this program more than they do now,” Bill Haley, President of Jackie Robinson West Little League, said. “To remain relevant and to expand our footprint in the neighborhood, it’s time we become more inclusive and encourage more kids to enjoy the benefits of Little League. Our league is very excited to announce that we’ll offer softball and Challenger in 2011.”
At the 64th Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Mr. Haley was honored for his volunteer work and support of the Jackie Robinson West Little League as he accepted the 2010 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award.
For more information on Jackie Robinson West Little League, log on to the league’s website, at: http://jackierobinsonwest.org/.
Inquiries on how to charter Little League Softball are to be directed to Sara Thompson, Little League’s Softball Manager, at: 570-326-1921, ext. 217; or e-mail: sthompson@LittleLeague.org. Additional information on Little League Softball is available at: www.LittleLeagueSoftball.org.
Information on the Little League Challenger Division is available at: www.LittleLeagueChallenger.org; or by contacting Sam Ranck, League Development Manager and Director of the Challenger Division, at: 570-326-1921, ext. 254, or via e-mail at: sranck@LittleLeague.org.