As two dozen Little League teams made up of Powell girls and boys took the fields Saturday at Homesteader Park, Travis Jones had a smile on his face. He and the entire board of directors had been …
As two dozen Little League teams made up of Powell girls and boys took the fields Saturday at Homesteader Park, Travis Jones had a smile on his face. He and the entire board of directors had been working since September recruiting players, raising money, hosting clinics and organizing the league leading up to the season opener.
“We elected our board and got new members last September. We’ve been working hard since then. Last year, we did our fall training. Then we did a spring training that started at the end of February. So we've been playing baseball for all but four months,” he said.
As with any complicated project organizing fun and physical education for children ages 4-12, there was still a lot to do. It wasn’t quite time to celebrate, though there is much to celebrate.
The number of Powell Little Leaguers rocketed from about 150 athletes in 2021 to 252 participants last year, Jones told an impressed Powell City Council in April. The 65% jump in registrations set a Little League world record, he said. "They've never seen that, ever."
The resurgence will also pay dividends for the Pioneers, he hopes.
“Last year [the Pioneers] only had two kids from Little League move up. This next year I think they're going to have close to 15,” Jones said, adding, “It’s coming. Baseball is back in Powell.”
The impact of recent Little League efforts will not only help in more advanced leagues, it has introduced team sports to children who are seeing their first action on the field. But it doesn’t just stop on the field. Little League is also teaching citizenship.
One of the problems with the growing program is finding enough umpires to cover all the games. Opening day required a big staff of umps. Yet, as the league gets to the regular season schedule, there will be games most nights at the park.
Board members and coaches volunteered to help. It still was not quite enough, until a few players in the majors stepped up to help out with the entry level games.
“The Majors’ kids are gonna start umpiring for the coach-pitch [division] kids. They want to give back to the program,” he said.
Garrett Davis will be 12 this summer. He was still excited about his team’s 9-5 win against the White Sox just a few minutes before doing a quick change of uniforms; from a Twins jersey to umpire blue.
It would be his first time behind the plate and the first day as an umpire, having umped from the infield earlier in the day. You’d think he’d be nervous, but he was more excited by the chance to assist the league he’s enjoyed for the past three years.
“I always like helping people and they needed me,” he said before brushing off the plate and waiting for the first batter.
He’s been playing third base in Powell for three years on the Twins, which is coached by Jones, and made the all-star team last year. He is looking forward to graduating to the Pioneers next summer, giving him six more years to make his mark in Powell baseball history.
He may have already made an impact. His younger brother, Case, also volunteered as well as two other players, Gunner Sapp and Owen Jones.
“We are hoping to get more to volunteer their time,” said Registration Director Alison Jones, Owen’s mom and “the one who keeps Travis in line.”
CJ Baker contributed reporting