Lebanon’s Kiwanis Club met Monday at CrossStyle Church to update its members on the overall impact of the Lebanon Youth Baseball League.
The baseball season this spring was the first season in which the local Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club joined their leagues together to sponsor youth baseball in Lebanon.
Kiwanis Club president Tom Brashear said the partnership had come a long way to be able to merge programs and to be able to get the level of success that they were getting to. He said that with the addition of two straight Little League World Series teams coming from the middle Tennessee area it is important for the clubs to put their best foot forward and give the youth every opportunity to excel.
“At the time the merger talks started I’m not sure any of us could of imagined the direction it was going to go other than we knew baseball was going to be played in Lebanon,” said Eddie Pawlawski, a board member for the Lebanon Youth Baseball League. “And some amazing things happened during the course of this first season.”
John Pope, a member of the Rotary Club, spoke to the Kiwanis Club to attest to the success that the league encountered and discuss plans for the future.
“I look at these two clubs as cousins now, where as I would of never put them together before, but boy did we come together and pull off something pretty special,” Pope said.
Pope said after seeing the success of Mt. Juliet’s baseball programs it became obvious to him Lebanon had the ability to build a bigger league and be more successful. They just had to find a way to piece it together.
“There’s so much baseball history and tradition in this town and it all started with Kiwanis,” Pope said of the league which began sponsoring Little League in 1955. The Rotary had sponsored Dixie Youth baseball since 2002.
Pope also said the spring season and postseason were a wonderful success, especially the two 11-12 year old division teams that advanced to the Dixie Youth state tournament, with one finishing as runner-up and the other in third place.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of positive responses from parents and players about the league,” Pope said. “They’ve all said how glad they are that we’re all together.”
Pope said the season’s success has also warranted attention from the Lebanon Lions Babe Ruth League for ages 13-15.
“That age group has dwindled and it’s a national thing because kids starting playing for their school and traveling with their school once they get that age, so we have some distinct ideas on how to fix that,” Pope said. “We hope to sit down this month and discuss how this could work.”
To recognize the success of the league, Pope said the Rotary Club traditionally asks successful teams to come to club lunch to feed and honor them.
Pope said this year he hopes that the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs could host both league teams that played in the state championship tournament.
“We’re going to bring in both teams and let them bring in their parents,” Pope said.
Pope said as of now they are looking at Tuesday, Sept. 10 at noon as the date to recognize the teams.
Pope also said that recent fall ball registrations saw a record number of more than 200 players sign up. The season will begin Thursday at 6 p.m. and last for six weeks.
Another area the league is looking to expand on is bringing in a 7-8 year old coach-pitch division.
“We’re bringing them into the mix this fall as a testing ground to see if that’s something we could take on in the spring,” Pope said. “This division strengthens the league and helps make the league bigger; it also helps build coaches and players by getting them earlier.”
Pope said the Lebanon Youth Baseball League is something that is built on rich tradition and an entity where the Kiwanis and Rotary name will always be present.
“With this baseball league we’re about one child at a time; it’s about every kid in the league” Pope said.