Crothersville Youth League sees growth this season



Seeing fans seated around the fields, smelling popcorn in the air, hearing players chant encouragements on the field, tasting fresh popcorn and touching the ball with the bat.

During a recent 72-degree night at Countryside Park, it was easy to sense the excitement.

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The Crothersville Youth League is hitting it out of the park with local children and fans.

The number of boys and girls ages 3 to 13 playing is at 104, nearly double the participation from last year, and fans bring their own chairs or sit in the bleachers to watch games Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Jamy Greathouse, a member of the league board, said it’s great to be a part of it all.

“That’s one of the reasons I took a chance on getting voted onto the board was because I wanted to bring more of this feel back,” he said.

“We’re not as strict and hardcore as some of the bigger towns and communities are,” he said. “We’re more relaxed because ultimately, we’re here for the kids. If the kids are learning the game and they are having fun doing it and they are becoming better people in general, that’s all we’re out here for.”

The town has had a youth league for quite a while, and numbers were even larger than this year at one point, Greathouse said.

In recent years, though, attendance and participation had dwindled.

Greathouse said part of that is due to youth choosing travel sports over local leagues.

“That depletes some of this. It’s a havoc on these kinds of leagues,” he said. “The community focus and attention kind of went away, the interest. We’re in a different age where kids would rather sit at home and play Fortnite.”

This year, however, there are nine teams with 10 or more kids on each roster.

“We’re growing. We’re getting back where we need to be,” Greathouse said. “You don’t want to lose something like this in your community.”

During an opening day celebration April 22, Boy Scout Troop 522 presented the colors, the Crothersville Singers sang the national anthem and retired teacher, administrator and coach Fran Schill threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

That’s when Greathouse first noticed the excitement building around the resurgence of the league. He estimated between 125 and 150 people attended.

“When Fran Schill went out there in his wheelchair and got drove out in a side by side out to the mound and threw that first pitch, that fence over there was lined with people taking pictures,” he said.

The turnout was special to Greathouse.

“The amount of people that came out, it was more of the overall feel,” he said. “What makes Crothersville unique is that tight bond, the feeling of a small community, the close-knitness.”

Support also came from the nine local businesses that stepped up to sponsor teams. Their names are on the front of the players’ shirts and on banners on the fences surrounding the fields at the park.

That support is crucial since the league is a not-for-profit organization.

“When you’re a breakeven organization and not-for-profit organization, we keep hitting up the community members, the people in Jackson County, Scott County, anybody that’s willing to help a hand,” Greathouse said.

The league is still seeking support in hopes of making improvements at the park, including better lighting and adding a public address system so the national anthem can be played and lineups can be announced.

“We look around here, we have the potential of having really nice stuff,” Greathouse said. “We’ve still got some projects that we’re hoping to turn things around.”

For now, the kids are enjoying getting the opportunity to play once or twice week. T-ball games for ages 3 to 5 are Tuesday nights, while peewee games for ages 6 to 9 and Little League games for ages 10 to 13 are Wednesday and Thursday nights. Action starts each day at 6 p.m.

There also are Scott County Little League teams that come up Thursday nights and play against the Crothersville teams.

“We’re even reaching out to other youth leagues and getting experience better for everybody,” Greathouse said. “We put all of the work in since the end of February getting started. Now, it’s just sit back and watch the kids and listen to the laughter and have fun. Then it makes it all worthwhile.”

Rowan Sharp, 10, of Crothersville said this is her third year playing in the league.

“I just started and I really liked it, and everyone in my family plays it,” the Immanuel Lutheran School student said. “A bunch of my teammates are my friends, and I just love batting, and I love catching the ball.”

Brayden Heath, 10, of Crothersville also was influenced by family to join.

“My dad, he played it for a while, and he was really good at it, and so then he has been helping me get better. That’s why I’ve been staying with it,” the Crothersville Elementary School student said.

“I get to have a nice team, and they get to cheer me on,” he said. “They are nice. They are always cheering me on when I’m at bat.”

Both kids appreciate having a league close to home, and they are glad to see it growing.

“It’s good for kids to actually have a chance to get out and play sports instead of having to go to all different kinds of towns,” Sharp said.

“Last year, we didn’t have as many people,” Heath said. “It got recognized, and more people wanted to play sports. It’s a good opportunity for you to do something fun with your friends.”

By the time the season ends in early June, Greathouse said he hopes the kids have several takeaways.

“I want them to take away a joy for the game, I want them to take away some pride in themselves of what they were able to accomplish and I want them to have a memory to look back on forever of the good times and the happiness and the new friends and the entire experience,” he said.

That will encourage them to continue with it in the coming years and then join the school teams when they are of age.

“Us doing this is about the kids, but it’s also about the community because the more that you have here, the more you draw people, the more interest there is and appeal there is and they want to stay here,” Greathouse said. “We want them to stay right here and have all of that.”

For those who haven’t been to Countryside Park this year, Greathouse encourages them to come out to the ballgames.

“It’s free for the community to come out,” he said. “Nobody says you have to have a kid playing. Just come out. Just come hang out with us and enjoy it. There’s nothing better.”

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For information about the Crothersville Youth League or to make a donation, join the league page on Facebook and send a message.


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