Sports

How a Group of Caldwell Parents Started an Official Little League

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CALDWELL, NJ — Thanks to the dedication and persistence of Caldwell parents B.J. and Janice Kurus, and many other local families, the Caldwell Little League (CLL) recently became an official charter of Little League Baseball and will launch its inaugural season this year.

The quote “If you build it, he will come” is fitting for this accomplishment, but B.J. Kurus said it would not have been possible without the outpouring of support and interest from the community.

The league, which includes participants from Caldwell, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Essex Fells, Fairfield and Roseland, has more than 150 registrants to date, and this number is growing daily, Kurus said. He added that phone calls continue to come in requesting registration forms and he expects more signups in the next few weeks. 

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Kurus, who continues to lead this charge, serves as the official league president. He is joined by board members Mike Mona, VP of Baseball Operations; Shawn Rudden, VP of Coach Pitch; and Janice Kurus, Treasurer. Kurus also serves as VP of Major Leagues and the league's Player Agent.  Many of the operations will be headed off by Kurus and these members, but volunteers are still needed to serve on the board as the league continues to grow. 

This undertaking began a few years ago when Caldwell parents began to question whether the borough needed a Little League program for boys and girls. According to Kurus, the local parents answered with a resounding “yes,” a sentiment that was echoed in neighboring towns like North Caldwell and Roseland, which were looking for a more robust league than what was currently offered in those towns.

“Personally, I also wanted to see a more robust baseball program in our area” said Kurus, who has seen the number of kids going out for baseball decreasing through the years due to different factors.

He said he felt that Little League would appeal to kids and parents who wanted “a simple platform to play some ball, in a fun and organized way.” By combining the six West Essex towns, the committee was able to attract a large number of kids to create a sustainable league.

“Little League is a great addition to our community,” said Kurus, adding that “it’s more than just a baseball league.”

In fact, he said Little League is the only sports organization to be chartered by the U.S. Congress, which puts the Little League in company with the likes of the Boy Scouts of America and the American Red Cross. According to Kurus, the benefits far surpass developing a child’s hitting or fielding skills.

The Little League’s mission, according to its website, is to “promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those who will participate in Little League Baseball and Softball.”  The site also states that the Little League program “assists youth in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being,” which are great traits to instill in our children. Little League believes that through its participants will grow to be “superior citizens rather than stellar athletes.”  

Kurus said that, like any other little league, there is still much to be finalized before an opening day can be determined. The CLL plans to have a player evaluation day to assess the abilities of all the kids looking to play in both the minor league and major league programs.

The CLL is also in the process of applying for nonprofit-sanctioned use of fields in some of the towns in West Essex. At least 50 volunteers willing to manage, coach, umpire and volunteer in any other way they can are standing by. Kurus said there are also some high school baseball players who have offered to assist in coaching and umpiring for the league.

As it continues to look for additional sponsors, the CLL thanked Winston Ouckama and Post Commander, Ralph Veltre, at the Roseland/Caldwell VFW Post 2619 for being the first team sponsor and for their continued support of Little League.

Kurus added that another exciting aspect of becoming an official little league charter is the opportunity to someday compete in the televised World Series Championship. In the words of Baseball Hall of Fame Tommy Lasorda, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”

Look for more updates from CLL as the season kicks off or as they say in baseball the first pitch is thrown. Registration is still open and the costs are below. For more information and any questions, contact Kurus at bj_kurus@yahoo.com.

Tee Ball - $60

Ages 4-7 years

Coach Pitch - $70

Ages 6-8 years

Minor League - $75

Ages 9-11 years

Major League - $80

Ages 10-12

Challenger - $50

Ages 4 years to 18 years

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