BELOIT - The Beloit City Wide Youth Softball League had a record-breaking year for the number of kids and volunteers participating, as well as the strong community support the league received.
The program, which recently obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, is open to any youth across the city and to kids of any skill level. Organizers wanted to start a program that was free, especially since there are parents who are struggling.
When it started four years ago it had 90 kids and 10 volunteers in the program. This year it had 260 kids and close to 40 volunteers.
"This was our best season ever," said volunteer Brian Elliott. "People just came out to help."
Elliott said the league recently had its tournament. Its next plans are to take the kids to a Milwaukee Brewers game on Wednesday. An anonymous donor provided $3,000 for the tickets to the game, and Durham School Services donated transportation services. Beloit Floral and Bryden Motors are buying sandwiches and snacks for the kids when they go to the Brewers game.
The improvement among players, Elliott said, has been unbelievable. Some of the boys who have been in the program since inception are ready for baseball and the girls are ready to move on to fast pitch softball. New kids also gained skills over the summer.
"It's great to see how much kids enjoy themselves and seeing parents supporting their kids, watching them and bringing them to practices. We get a lift out of that as well and the kids definitely do. This support carries over to school as well," Elliott said.
Some of the top players this year included: Nevayah House, Jalen Allen, Xavier Weston, Destiney Green, Julius Elliott, Trovon Cornell Jr., Jhaveion Wells and Kendra Chapman.
Committed volunteers included: Tommie Evans, Dennis Pounds, Richard Bevineau, Tim Listenbee, Mike Walker, Ryan Anderson, Swahili Allen, Kathy Crawford, Doug Beeler, Kelvin Sherrod, Jamerson Heath, Kevin Chapman, Kevin Tadder, Alisha Isabell, Regina Davidson, Cynthia Elliott, Mary Sandlin, Sophia Lindsey, Nekeya Morton, Sandra Taylor, Kevin Smith, Asia Godwin, Cotina Godwin, Pastor Phil Ramsey and Ty Golden.
Elliott said community support continues. The School District of Beloit donated use of practice fields in the district and the city donated the fields for the team to play on at Leeson and Telfer parks.
"Without the support we wouldn't be able to keep our program going," Elliott said.
Community Action/Merrill Community Center provided facilities to use and money to help with uniforms.
Elliott, as well as volunteers Scottie Davidson and Patricia Majeed, used their own money to feed kids at events.
Elliott said volunteers are always welcome.
"The objective is to keep growing. There are still so many kids who could benefit from our program, but in order to do that, we would need more volunteers," he said.
For more information people can visit the group's new website, www.beloitcitywideyouthsoftball.com, or on its Facebook page titled "Beloit City Wide Youth Softball."
Those interested in more information or becoming a volunteer can call volunteer Scottie Davidson at 608-201-5884 or email Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org or can leave contact information on the website.