“This league is very special to Ulster County because we give over 200 kids every summer, boys and girls ages eight to 18, something positive to do,” says LaDay-Hill.
“They get to stay active, and develop teamwork and self discipline skills.”
The league has grown from having about 100 kids in 2006 to 235 last year, even in the face of a $7000 cut in federal funds through the city government last year. One of the things that has kept the league going, says league administrator Coreen Sanchez, is the passion and support of its participants. “It is a great league that offers love, strength, and recreation for the summer. It keeps the youth busy and excited about playing their favorite sport,” says Sanchez.
The league has three age divisions and is divided up into teams, each of which has a sponsor. Last year, the league had 15 teams, many with non-Kingston residents.
One of the things that makes this league special is that is includes local kids from all over. Part of the league’s mission is to “breakdown socioeconomic, religious, and racial barriers,” according to the league’s Facebook entry. Kids from Kingston get to broaden their horizons by meeting people outside city limits, and kids from outside Kingston get to experience the motivated, energetic spirits of some of Kingston’s youth.
The league also aims to teach their players discipline and teamwork, and gives kids an alternative to the boredom (or even trouble) that summer can bring. Though the league is open to kids of all levels of experience, it’s got serious standards. The coaches get their rosters on May 1 so that they have enough time to practice to prepare for the season, which doesn’t start until July 5. The season ends on August 18 with a cookout and trophy ceremony.
“Although many parents and participants feel our season goes by too fast, I work year-round to develop this program, an average of 500 hours a year,” estimates LaDay-Hill.
Games are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5, 6, and 7 p.m. The 8-10-year-old division plays at Hasbrouck Court, while the older two play at Rondout Gardens Courts.
This year, the 8-to-10 division is welcoming many new coaches, who will have to train their teams intensively to beat the Komets, who were undefeated last year. The 11-14 division will be incorporating a new team from Red Hook, and the 15-18 division is looking forward to mingling returning teams, including one from Hudson, plus possible new teams from Saugerties and other various areas of Ulster County.
The league is now in late registration season. The deadline for late registration has been pushed back to April 30 to accommodate families who were away during spring break. Anyone interested in registering can pick up a form from Andy Williams at the YMCA (338-3810, x106), or Sandy Thompson-Hopgood at the Everett Hodge Center on Franklin Street (331-9683). One can also call Takum Sanchez, league coordinator, at 391-3439, director Megan Weiss at 331-1110, or LaDay-Hill at 401-6830. Anyone interested in coaching should contact LaDay-Hill.
The league is also looking for businesses to sponsor teams. Any businesses interested should call LaDay-Hill as well.