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The 2005 Athletics of the Northwest Youth Athletic Association are ready to play at the Cashin Wheeler Field in this file photo.
Daily file photo by John Godbey
The 2005 Athletics of the Northwest Youth Athletic Association are ready to play at the Cashin Wheeler Field in this file photo.

NYAA looks for volunteers
Youth leagues need umps, coaches

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

For many people, the Northwest Youth Athletic Association in Decatur is nothing short of a miracle.

The association gives youngsters the opportunity to participate in team sports such as baseball and it doesn’t cost the child or parent a dime.

The NYAA normally begins its baseball season after the Decatur City Schools break for summer.

Children, ages 4-13 are invited to come and join the fun.

Starting Monday, youngsters can sign up to play from 4 through 5 p.m. at the Cashin Wheeler Baseball Field, next to Benjamin Davis Elementary School.

“We will be at the field Monday through Friday every day through June 2,” said Harry Orr, vice president of NYAA. “Also, we will be holding coaches, officials and umpires meetings every Tuesday night from 6-7 at the field.”

The Tuesday night meetings are meetings Orr would like to see grow tremendously.

“We have the kids, we have a lot of kids, but what we really need is umpires and coaches,” Orr said. “This is very important for us because it is very important for the kids. Over the years, we have had a lot of fun. For a few of those years, we have had to operate with a minimal staff.

“That makes it tough for everybody involved. It wasn’t uncommon to have 20 to 22 kids on a team. If we could keep that number down to 15, that would take a lot of pressure off of everybody.”

Orr said he really didn’t want to get ahead of himself when talking about the league.

“For us to have one of those fun years, we need a lot of help. We need a lot of volunteers,” Orr said. “We’re a nonprofit organization, so money is kind of tight. On our Tuesday night meetings, we would like to have umpires join us and tell us how much they will charge the league to umpire our games.

“In the past, we have had to get some of the coaches to go out and umpire games, even their own games. They shouldn’t have to do that. It is so very important to us that we get volunteers, hopefully volunteers with at least six months to a year’s experience in umpiring and coaching. All we need is for a few adults to give some of their time to do something really positive for the kids.”

Orr said the league is hoping to get eight teams this year or even more.

If NYAA doesn’t get enough volunteers, it may have to play with just six teams, which means there will be a lot of players on each team.

NYAA has three different divisions for the boys and girls. The tee-ball division is for children 4-6, the pitching machine division is for players 7-8. The 9-13-year-olds will play regulation baseball.

“Our league is so very important because it keeps a lot of kids out of trouble,” said Tim Guster, umpire, chaplain and NYAA organizer.

According to NYAA equipment manager Jimmie H. Luckie, the league could be solid if a few sponsors jumped in to help.

“We’ll take anything we can get,” Luckie said. “Whatever we get not only gives them a great place to play, but it also gives some of the kids an opportunity to do something that they would not have been able to do without the help of The Northwest Youth Athletic Association.

“We want to keep the kids off of the streets. We also organize other activities that helps us to keep them out of trouble while doing something very positive.”

Orr agreed with the members of his team.

“We normally play on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights,” said Orr. “And, if we need to, we will play on some Saturdays.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make this successful. Anybody on our NYAA team, including Butch Matthews who is our president, will be glad to speak with people about the needs that we have. We’ll be glad to talk about what we do for our kids and tell people how they can pitch in and help. If people have never be involved in something like this, they need to try it out. It gives you a really good feeling inside knowing that you’ve helped a lot of kids.”

For more information, contact Orr at 355-7145, Guster at 476-4065 or Luckie at 355-4919.

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