New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

The Sports Journal

New Britain Little League to Open Season Saturday

The administration of youth baseball leagues tends to be somewhat on the stodgy side as a rule.

Many administrators are around for years, applying what they learned from the administrators before them. In a day when sports-minded children can shun the national pastime for a diverse menu of other activities like soccer, lacrosse and summer basketball, dwindling numbers show that the soup can thicken quickly if it isn’t stirred.

Not in New Britain.

New Britain Little League president Matthew Cannata has harnessed the progressive nature of today’s emerging post-college generation and stamped it onto a 45-year-old product. The result is that the city’s Little League set and their youthful parents are coming out in numbers.

The NBLL will begin its 2013 season Saturday at Stanley Quarter Park with opening-day ceremonies slated for 11 a.m.

“This season, New Britain Little League is servicing over 550 players and 45 teams for children ranging in age from 4 to 16,” Cannata notes with pride. It wasn’t long ago that numbers were plunging into the low 400s and the number of teams was down to 33.

“Find us and like us on Facebook! Search: New Britain Little League,” reads the promotional signature on Cannata’s communications. It’s language the young can understand.

“We started use social media two years ago and with the ever-growing technology changes, it’s important to get the word out,” he said. “When we sent out letters, we’d get all this returned mail. Now we do online registration.

“We’ve done a little on Twitter. We have almost 500 ‘likes’ on Facebook and it gets the news out quicker and easier. It helps us grow. The parents and kids relate with it and that builds a family atmosphere throughout the league.”

The NBLL has joined hands with the New Britain High baseball program and its equally progressive leader – head coach Roberto Mercado. The NBHS Golden Hurricane Marching Band will supply musical accoutrements. The Junior ROTC will display the colors. Rocky, the inimitable and omnipresent mascot of the New Britain Rock Cats, will also be on hand. Mayor Timothy O’Brien will represent City Hall.

NBLL competes in District 5 after the regular season when all-star teams are formed. The league’s Senior All-Star softball squad, two-time District 5 champions, will be honored.

“After ceremonies, we have many great activities planned with inflatables, face-painting, musical entertainment, baseball and softball games, and more,” Cannata said.

The City’s diversity will be celebrated when folks get hungry.

“We will have a Taste of New Britain with American, Italian, Hispanic and Armenian food vendors,” he said.

The NBLL’s board of directors includes: Nelson Keller, Pedro Garcia (Advisors); Frankie Adorno (Director of Baseball); Eddie Camacho (Director of Softball); Jason Jones (Field Coordinator); Antonio Orriola (Fund-raising and Sponsorships Coordinator); Guy Crundwell (Player Agent); Chastity Collazo (Recording Secretary); Justin Dorsey (Rules and Conflict Counsel Chairman); Javier Burgos (Safety and Maintenance Supervisor); Gayle Connolly (Treasurer); Chad Heath (Player and Coach Development).

The Baseball Division directors are: Rose Woods (Challenger); Paul Ricciardelli (Tee-Ball); Chris Waszkiewicz (Coaches Pitch); Sue Gibson (Developmental Minors); Hamed Ayala (Minors); Chad Gibbs (Majors); Esteban Sanchez (Seniors)

The Softball Division directors are: Jose Rivera (Minors); Kim Barrett (Majors); Camacho (Seniors).

“We’re going to have over 250 volunteers this year,” Cannata said. “We’ve been consistently over 500 kids and that’s a credit to our coaches and volunteers.

“It’s a year-round thing now. We have spring training in January. Only November and December are the offseason.

“We’re building the league from the bottom up. We pride ourselves on giving every kid a shot at playing ball. We don’t just focus on one or two divisions. We put a huge focus on our developmental foundation. Without that, we wouldn’t have anybody moving up in the ranks.”