Little League a Learning Experience

Boys on-deck (Photo by Christine Simek)

Local teams serve both girls and boys

By Christine Simek​​

Philipstown Little League has been in the business of teaching local kids about baseball and sportsmanship for over half of a century. This year, approximately 230 girls and boys from Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Garrison are part of the program. The League is comprised of two softball leagues and three baseball leagues for a total of 18 teams who will, collectively, play over 100 games before summer begins.

Opening day took place on April 14 and the season will culminate at the end of June after a playoff series dictates a champion for each division, but winning the League Championship is not the primary goal of the organization. The League’s mission upholds the belief that “the attainment of exceptional athletic skill or the winning of games is secondary and the molding of our future citizens is of prime importance.”

Swing batter (Photo by Eddie Tock)

President of the Philipstown Little League, Eddie Tock, is committed to championing the virtues of character, courage, loyalty and physical well-being and he consciously encourages teamwork among the players, rather than focusing on competition. “It’s about learning, not about winning,” he states emphatically. “And pushing this attitude with the kids really makes a difference.” Tock likes to see camaraderie emerge among the players — especially when good friends have been assigned to different teams, a situation that has the potential to create a tricky dynamic for adolescents who are trying to figure out their social world. “What you see is the kids playing hard against one another at 9 a.m. and then gathering in the stands afterwards to hang out together and watch the next game.” This camaraderie is the true “spirit” of Little League that Tock wants to keep at the heart of the organization.

Adequate availability and the continual maintenance of playing fields are issues that create challenges for many local sports teams, and the Little League is not impervious to these difficulties. League games take place primarily at the Haldane fields on 9D and at the North Highlands site on Fishkill Road. Scheduling a hundred or so games on four ball fields is a logistical trial in itself, and the lack of space becomes an even bigger issue when you factor in the need for make-up games and practices. “We’re short-handed when it comes to fields,” Tock says. And while he is very pleased with the cooperative relationship the League has with Haldane School and Philipstown Recreation Center, eventually the need for a new Little League field is going to have to be addressed. Tock has been in contact with Senator Greg Ball about possible grant opportunities for funding and he is working with the Rec Center to secure field space.

Swing and a miss (Photo by C. Simek)

Parent involvement is an integral of the program and the League relies heavily on dozens of volunteers who present themselves as the teams’ ​coaches, assistants, score keepers and field crew members. Other parents support the program by spending long hours on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings cheering from the stands and grassy hills that line the ball fields around Philipstown.

Tock says that they are always in need of more help, specifically for folks willing to be board members, so if you are interested in helping out an ​organization which not only teaches kids the rules of our national pastime, but makes it its business to help mold the next generation of Philipstown citizens, you can visit and find a way to help.

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