“It’s exciting seeing the community support the teams and the kids and watching the kids get really excited about being successful,” said board member Thad Cook, whose son plays for the 10U team.
Fairborn has the longest running affiliation in Ohio with Little League Baseball. But like all youth baseball, the fields in Fairborn sat empty last summer. This summer, however, the fields buzzed with the activity of 320 ballplayers from T-ball to Seniors. Volunteers worked to get the fields back in shape and made improvements.
“It was really successful and great to see everybody back out at the fields and the kids having fun,” Cook said.
The 10U and 11U teams hosted the district tournaments, helping grow community excitement for the teams. To cover lodging and travel costs, the league has raised $6,000 through a car wash and an online GoFundMe campaign. The car wash this past Monday raised $3,500 in four hours.
Gilliam, in his first year as board president, said the league has remained strong during his seven years on the board because of strong community support through financial donations and team sponsors. But the hours of volunteer work and coaching are vital.
“It’s pretty much having good board members that want to volunteer and work 40 hours a week then still be willing to work 40-50 hours a week at the ballpark,” Gilliam said.
Gilliam expects this year’s success to increase the number of players next year. He said he’s heard from several parents who weren’t happy with travel-team experiences.
“As you win districts, we are hearing a lot from the people in town who went that way of travel ball say if they knew the program was going in this direction then our kids would’ve come there and played,” Gilliam said. “So it’s something good to build on.”