Scholarship demand on the rise for Snoqualmie Valley Little League

Snoqualmie Valley Little league provides youth baseball and softball to players in North Bend and Snoqualmie.

Typically, the league provides scholarships to around 40 youths each year. This year, requests for scholarships rose by 50 percent. For 2010, the league is providing scholarships for about 12 percent of players in the 475-youth league. At the same time, sales of billboard promotions declined.

“Everyone has been affected by the economy,” said Wes Dover, Snoqualmie Valley Little League Treasurer. “It’s trickled down to baseball.”

Economy or not, the Little League’s motto has always been ‘Kids First.’

“We try to make it clear that no kid will be turned away,” Dover said.

To make sure all youths can take the field, the Little League has always had a welcoming approach. Families can apply for scholarships through the SVLL board president. Over the past several years, Dover said he can’t remember seeing any family turned away.

Scholarships average about $100, depending on the age and level of play. In return for a scholarship, families agree to help with volunteering and other duties.

Snoqualmie Valley Little League takes seriously its charge that every youth play.

“You’re not supposed to close your registration,” Dover said, in case a latecomer wants to play.

Little League is competitive, but wins don’t matter as much as inclusion.

“You’re trying to develop kids,” Dover said. “We have equal playtime rules. One kid isn’t on the bench the whole time — all 12 kids are in the batting order.”

In any team sport, youths grow in different ways. Dover encourages coaches to help each player reach for their own goals

“You’re developing kids with a bunch of different expectations, much different than a select or travel team,” he said.

Some players are heading for more select play, but there also might be one young player there to have fun with his buddies. He may not be on the diamond in a few years, but for the moment, Little League offers him a chance to be part of a ball team.

“He gets a hit and the whole team is on top of him, high-fiving him,” Dover said. “Those moments are better than whether you finish in first place in your league.”

The Chevy Youth Baseball fundraiser helps offset the economy and keep scholarships flowing.

“We want the community to know that we’re here,” Dover said. “When they see us at QFC and Safeway, or knocking on their door, we’re helping the community.”

• Learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Little League teams, registration an

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