Important: Letter to the Membership - 8/13 (Pre AGM), News (Turtle Club Baseball and Softball)

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Important: Letter to the Membership - 8/13 (Pre AGM)
Submitted By dsoulliere on Monday, August 13, 2012
TC Membership,
As the rumours are abundant out there about our intentions as an organization for the next year I felt it was important to share with you our thoughts and the recommendation of your Board of Directors that will be put forth at the August 19th AGM. Many individuals, including D5 are attempting to paint this as abandoning our TC heritage and history. I can assure you that it is the furthest thing from the truth. Our goal and #1 priority is that we have a strong and vibrant program for the youth of all of LaSalle for another 50 years to come. To build on our proud history and accomplishments we have achieved as an organization in the last 50 years...

Change is often difficult. It was hard for the Tigers to leave the old Tiger Stadium and all the memories
and history that it possessed. It was hard for the Yankees, Leafs, Bruins and many other storied
franchises like ours to make change. But they did it because it was the right thing to do for the
organization to continue to grow and develop. First of all I want to kill the rumour that we are leaving
Turtle Club Park. This is not true. TC Park will be our home for a long long time to come. What we do
need to address is the viability and the ability of the current program structure to meet our needs as a
community and as an organization to continue to provide the best Travel and House League ball
program possible.

It is the opinion of the Executive that the Little League program in our area is suffering beyond repair
from the lack of cooperation and engagement of the Leagues and Little League in general. Our location
geographically is a challenge as there are no viable LL options for us to compete against. The structure
of the program having House League and All Star programs combined hampers the abilities of both sides
to operate a successful program that benefits the players that choose to participate in one or the other.
Beyond this, every year we are faced with questions from residents of LaSalle that cannot play at TC
because LL years ago drew boundaries that did not include all of our town. We feel this is an injustice
and tax paying residents of LaSalle should be able to participate and enjoy our community based
programs. The OBA organizations in the area have been able to grow and take players from our
organization to field teams in competitive programs that have had much more success than our All Star
program, and success is not being measured by just wins. We are measuring success on the ability to
develop ball skills and continued interest in the program.

While TC registration numbers have remained strong and even increased in the last 2 years, the rest of
D5 has declined steadily in numbers. This has affected the ability of TC as an organization in both the
House League and All Star programs. In House League we take our teams out of our home park to play
in an interlocked division because we have 3 or 4 teams and District combined has 2 to 3 teams at times.
At the All Star level our teams do not have the ability to play against teams of like caliber in the area and
therefore are not prepared when they advance to Provincials and beyond. We have leagues in District 5
that have registration of 75 or less players compared to our approximate 600.

In the softball program our pain is even greater as teams advance directly to a Canadians series without
playing a Provincial let alone a District final in almost all cases. We ask families to come up with
thousands of dollars in travel and expenses and ask our girls to compete when we have not given them
the tools or at the very least prepared them for the level of competition they will face. This year the
destiny of the softball program was even more evident at the All Star level as there was no D5
tournament in T-Ball, Minor, Major, Junior or Senior divisions. That in itself is a travesty and
demonstrates that the interest and that the viability of the program is non-existent. On the baseball side
the TC teams won every District tournament there was in such a fashion that it truly made our teams
look much stronger than they were. Our Major team beat their competition 70 to 4. Only to lose out at
the provincial level. Why you ask? One reason is the lack of competition and thus appropriate
development of a team at that level. If a team cannot repeatedly play other teams at similar levels of
competition then they will never improve.

District 5 has been communicating and asking you our membership to make sure you understand all
options. We your Board agree with this and have spent a considerable amount of time above and
beyond the operations of the league to ensure that we have carefully looked at, considered and
evaluated all options available to us. Again, I want to reiterate that we are not looking to move from TC
Park, nor are we looking to abandon our roots to a community based program that provides the best
baseball and softball program possible. Keep in mind that when TC was first formed for many years we
were not a Little League organization. What we are looking to do is to create a stronger more vibrant
program that will allow all of our participants to flourish. In today's LL program you are forced to play
house league in order to participate in the All Star Program. Why? No other sport does that. The reason
they don’t is to allow for players to continue development at their appropriate pace in a program that is
best suited for their level of ability be that travel or house league. Even when we go through the pain of
a 12 game house league season, which in itself is questionable, you are then faced with a LL D5
tournament that lasts a week and you are done. You are then forced to find a low caliber friendship
tournament that does not even follow Little League rules and if you are lucky you might find one that
has teams at the right competitive level for your players.

This is not a question of whether or not LL is a good program. It is a good option in some parts of the
country, just not here. The real question is it is the right program in our geography? Is it providing us
the best value for the fees we are paying? Is it providing our young players the best opportunity to
improve their level of play? The answers to these questions we have concluded is no.
We have also looked at the impact our decision has on District 5. While we understand that we will cut
the number of players in D5 by 50% to 70%. We understand the negative impact on our neighbours and
although it was not our goal to negatively impact anyone we need to focus on you our membership and
the young men and women that we are charged with representing to provide the best program possible.
We are charged with, through our Constitution and through our own sense of responsibility to this
organization that I have been a part of for 12 years now, to make sure that it not only continues to grow
but continues to improve the program that it offers our community.

Our new proposed organization does that. We will continue to run a House League program, with the
Turtle Club logo proudly on each jersey. We can extend the season, we can open up our registration to
ALL residents of LaSalle and beyond. We will not be bound by LL and D5 boundaries that leave many
residents of LaSalle locked out of our current program. Some of our players that go to school together,
that play hockey and other sports together, whose families pay taxes in LaSalle cannot play together in
LL. Why? Why is that considered ok? Well our new program will have no boundaries and will be open to
everyone in LaSalle. Participants in our House League program will not have to play with players that are
just interested in the travel component and have a more competitive edge. They will be able to play
with like talent players focused on the friendly and safe House League environment of developing skills
and having fun. Our Travel players would not be forced to participate in a House League program, they
will be playing with like talent level players and be able to enjoy a more competitive and more
aggressive level of play. It does not matter whether this program is LL or whatever we choose it to be.
We will have the same programs in place, as LL does not assist us at all from a House League
perspective.

Our proposed program for the travel baseball side would be played under OBA which offers the ability
for us to play a more organized schedule of travel ball. It gives these teams the ability to play similarly
talented teams 20 to 30 times a season, participate in appropriate level tournaments and then play in
the OBAs for provincial and national titles. I have heard many teams talk about the dream of the LL
World Series. But please step back and consider what it takes to get there and how successful we have
been. The last team to make it there was back in 1972. That is 40 years ago. So should we develop an
organization around a nearly impossible dream of getting to the LL World Series? How fair is that to our
membership? How fair is that to the young ball players? We cannot compete with the larger centers
like High Park and BC. They field teams from boundaries that are significantly larger than ours, i.e. High
Park is all of the City of Toronto.

Our proposed change to the travel Softball program would see us participating in PWSA and/or USSSA
leagues and tournaments. We have seen some success this year with a handful of pilot teams and we
have also learned a lot from teams that did not execute so well according to plan. These leagues offer a
better development program for our young ladies and a chance once again to play at a more similar
level of competitiveness. We are looking at options of an interlock schedule with other local travel
programs and talking to other organizations about establishing a better softball program for everyone.
Our proposed change to the House League program will have no visible change to you. The only real
change is that players that make the Travel teams, as in other sports, will not be on House League
teams. The divisions will remain, T-Ball, Rookie Ball, Minor, Major, Junior, Senior in both baseball and
softball. We will now also have the flexibility of better aligning ages and divisions across baseball and
softball.

In summary here is what we are seeing:
• District 5 continued drop in registration in all leagues but TC – driving interlock requirements
• Lack of District 5 all star teams in baseball and softball
• No District 5 tournaments in SB T-Ball to Senior this year
• District 5 is considering cancelling the All Star program completely, and just becoming just a
House League organization
• Fees paid to LL for registration, player assessment, tournaments etc., are much higher in
comparison to OBA, PWSA and USSSA
On the positive side of our proposal, we see the following:
• Lower cost of registration, tournaments, overall operations, etc.
• Separation of House League and Travel teams to allow for players to play in environments that
are at their level of competition and talent that will enhance safety and enjoyment for all
• Possibly extend seasons for House and Travel programs to allow for more development
• Opportunities to better align house league divisions by age, level of play and registration
numbers
• Opportunities for teams to advance and be competitive at the travel level in both baseball and
softball
• Opportunities for House League players to participate in organized baseball (SOBA)
tournaments; i.e Select Teams

In summary my fellow members, this is not about turning our backs on the history of TC, it is not about
taking down those championship boards, forgetting all memories and good things that we have worked
so hard over the years to have TC be a representation of. This initiative is really about continuing the
forward thinking ways of our forefathers and making corrections to our course to make us a better
organization. To drive continuous improvement in all that we do. This is about making more
memories. More reasons to celebrate. A better community based program. This is about continuing
the growth and ability of this organization to the vibrant and leading organization that it has been in the
past. Your Board has considered all options, looked under every rock, evaluated a bunch of scenarios
and struggled with the decision to break ties with Little League, but at the end of the day we all agree on
one thing. It is the best thing to do for TC for years to come.

If you have questions feel free to reach out to me, [email protected] and check out our
website www.turtleclubbaseball.com for more info.

Yours in Ball.
Dom Vieira
President, Turtle Club
[email protected]
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