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Building better ballfields: Chaplins North Bend Chevy, local Little Leagues improving the game
Every summer, Chaplins North Bend Chevrolet partners with local Little Leagues to help young ballplayers find success.
This year was no exception, as Chaplins offered Falls Little League and Snoqualmie Valley Little League a $500 donation, T-shirts, gear bags, and a chance to fundraise through a Chevrolet vehicle sweepstakes.
It’s all part of a national program called Chevy Youth Baseball.
“Baseball is the anchor to every community,” said Leesa McKay, Chaplins’ in-house marketing administrator and outside saleswoman. “No matter how small a town is, it has Little League. We see all those kids out there playing, but I don’t think we all realize actually what it takes to get those kids to play — I know I didn’t.”
“There is nothing more American than Chevrolet and baseball and Chaplin’s North Bend Chevrolet wants to combine America’s favorite brand and favorite pastime together for our families in North Bend to enjoy,” added McKay.
Since beginning eight years ago, the program has raised more than $13 million and affected nearly three million youth, assisting in more than 2,000 parks improvements, in 1,600 communities nationwide. You can learn more about Chevrolet Youth Baseball at www.youthsportswired.com.
Locally, the leagues plan to use their donation to make better ballfields.
A safer game
More than 700 local youth play ball through Falls Little League, which uses support from donors like Chaplins to fund ongoing ballfield improvements throughout the Valley.
This year, the league put $40,000 into work at its eight playfields in Fall City and Snoqualmie. It’s the league’s biggest investment in ballfields ever, says Terri Campbell, Falls Little League Treasurer. At their flagship field, Aldarra, in Fall City, the diamonds were regraded and got better dirt. Improved surfaces absorb water better, making for fewer rainouts and fewer sports injuries.
All fields got an upgrade. Chief Kanim’s ballfields got the same dirt treatment as Aldarra, and at Fall City Elementary, the lip between the field and grass was eliminated, ending the occasional wild ball bounce.
Cascade View Elementary School’s grass field was replaced with an earth diamond, backstop and bleachers.
At Aldarra, the league installed taller backstops and wider nets to keep foul balls from endangering commuters on Highway 202.
“The nets span the two fields, so 202 is protected,” said Campbell.
The Falls league also recently revised its boundaries with the Redmond and Snoqualmie Valley leagues.
What’s ahead: Probable security upgrades at Aldarra. Someone set the porta-potties on fire recently at Aldarra, and the wood snack shack was only saved through the vigilance of a passing board member. Motion-sensor cameras would prevent such problems in future.
With the summer season over, the board will reconvene in the fall and ramp up planning for next year in January.
Volunteers are always needed, and there are currently several opportunities to get involved. To learn more about Falls Little League, visit http://www.fallsll.org.
If you build it…
Snoqualmie Valley Little League teaches some 500 players the basics of the game at fields at Centennial Fields in Snoqualmie and Torguson Park and Twin Falls Middle School in North Bend. Like Falls Little League, funding from Chaplins helps make crucial field improvements.
Last season, the league invested thousands of dollars into new infield dirt for all its fields. An earlier project put new grass on Field Six at Torguson Park.
The league is working with the city on a major future project—a total upgrade of the dugout, backstop, restrooms and concession stands at Torguson Park, the league’s flagship field.
Torguson already has one of the best backdrops, Mount Si, in local baseball. Baunsgard sees it as becoming a ballfield mecca.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said league President Roy Baunsgard. “The bonus for the city is getting baseball and softball tournaments back to the city.”
Along with Chaplins, “there are so many businesses that have been gracious about being partners with Little League,” said Baunsgard. “That, added up, has allowed us to put money back into the park. The backbone of what we need is here. It’s time to bring these fields up to date.”
• You can learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Little league at http://www.svll.net/.
• Two locals, Cathy Brewster and Greg Rothe, were chosen at a drawing at the 2013 SVLL jamboree. They both won a gift bag of Chevy merchandise. Bags can be picked up at Chaplins.
Accepting a Chevy Youth Baseball donation are SVLL President Roy Baunsgard, right, with Leesa McKay in a 2014 Silverado.