MANALAPAN BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION
It was late September and summer seemed to be overstaying it’s welcome as teams played a Tuesday night game in 80-degree weather, but then finally calendar and thermometer came to agreement. Suddenly hip-high plumes of fog encompassed the outfielders and pitchers plied their craft in long sleeves and mock turtle necks. It finally felt like fall baseball. The fall season is my personal favorite and on behalf of The Manalapan Baseball and Softball Association’s board of directors I’d like to extend a warm welcome and thank you to the nearly thousand families that participated in the MBSA in 2017.
After a four year stretch that saw participation in our rec divisions and youth baseball as a whole decline by more than 20%, I’m pleased to report that our program has bucked the national trend, with registrations on the increase for the 2nd straight season. The reasons for the decline are many, but we need to worry less about trends which we can’t impact than on our own brand and insuring that the MBSA remains a focal point in the community by providing a positive environment for the development of sportsmanship, character, and athletic skill. More than ever we need to shift the emphasis from winning games to player development with a focus on fundamentals, teamwork, family involvement, fun, and above all else nurturing a love for baseball and softball.
The MBSA has worked hard over the last year to improve the experience our members have on the ballfield. Money raised from the spring lottery has helped fund the installation of scoreboards on rec fields 1, 3, and 7 and the repair of the scoreboards on fields 4 and 6. We hope to have the remaining 3 fields (2,5, and 9) covered over the coming year. As part of the increased focus on player development the league has made a commitment to ensure that batting cages and pitching lanes accessible to all fields. In addition to the cages serving fields 4,5,6, and7, we’ve installed a batting tunnel between fields 1 and 2 and are in the process of installing a tunnel on field 3 bringing cage access to the softball program.
A great source of frustration over the years both for those running the league and those playing have been rainouts. While we can never eliminate them, we have put in a plan to both reduce the number of rainouts and to get the fields up and playable more quickly. To aid in this the league has invested in a turtle drain pumping system and tarpaulins to help protect the fields during rain storms.
Over the coming year the league will be furnishing each of the fields with practice nets, batting tees, and an array of other equipment that will assist coaches in running efficient and productive practices as well as offer coaching clinics in coordination with Brian Boyce and the HS coaches so they can best utilize their scheduled practice time.
Moving forward we will continue to work with the HS to insure there is a continuity between our programs. By working with Coach Boyce to help train our volunteer coaches and with our summer camp program we can make sure that all players in our program are receiving the same sort of training and in the same manner that it is taught and expected at the junior and High School levels.
There are a lot of exciting things happening within the MBSA, but there are difficulties as well. The softball program has struggled and we were forced to refund some registrations due to an inability to complete rosters at certain levels. The good news is that we’ve had an infusion of new blood on the board with the recent election and there is a commitment to building the softball side to where it is better than ever before.
We remain committed to expanding our concessions, the travel programs, tournaments and our partnership with USABL, clinics, and more, but to make that all happen we need more people to get involved. There are so many ways to volunteer, but perhaps none are more rewarding than working with the Challenger program, MBSA’s division for children with special needs. Watching some of our young ball players serve as buddies to our Challenger kids is truly rewarding and as that program continues to grow so to will the need for volunteers.
If you’d like to find a way to get more involved just contact a board member (the contact list is on our home page). Until then, we have about 4 weeks left of fall ball. October ball is magic. As major league teams compete to get to the World Series our boys and girls bundle up and create memories that will last a lifetime. There is no better place to play ball than in Manalapan so come down and enjoy these last weeks of fall and thank you for being a part of The Manalapan Baseball and Softball Association.