Little League baseball coming to Austin

February 17, 2011
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XX played last year in the Austin Safety Net Works' baseball league, the precursor to this year's Austin Little League.

Westside Health Authority and the Austin Safety Net Works are proud to announce that Little League baseball will start this spring in Austin.

Although there are a few sponsored baseball programs for youth on the West Side, this is the first time the Austin community will have official Little League International (LLI) teams.

Several dozen kids played last year in the Austin Safety Net Works' baseball league, the precursor to this year's Austin Little League.

This is a huge step for local youth sports and a great opportunity, says Thomas Bowling and Jonathan Currie.

Little League is one of the largest internationally sanctioned youth baseball programs in the world, with nearly 200,000 teams in all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Youth participating in Little League baseball may have the opportunity to take part in the international tournament.

Austin and other West Side neighborhoods have historically suffered a lack of opportunities and resources, which makes the new partnership with LLI especially beneficial to the struggling community.  The goal of the Little League program is developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being, espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty.

Considering that research has proven that crime spikes between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. and the ongoing issue of violence in the Austin community, this is a significant development for the West Side. Little League offers recreation and fitness to a large population of youth who have few options for productive after-school and weekend activities.

Fifty-two boys and girls participated in the Austin Safety Net Works' league last year.

Austin Safety Net Works is a coalition of community groups with a mission to prevent violence in Austin by engaging youth in promoting positive norms and values in the community. Funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Austin Safety Net Works provides job opportunities, social-recreational activities and peace education through a network of local organizations.

Bringing Little League to Austin is one of ASNW’s strategies to provide positive activities to youth who have few available outlets.

Austin Little League program is open to girls and boys ages 4 to 18. Anyone interested in registering to be on a team or volunteering (as coaches, board members, officials, etc.) should contact Thomas Bowling or Jonathan Currie at (773) 378-5034. Click here for more information.

32 thoughts on “Little League baseball coming to Austin

  1. Austin Mandela Little League began in LaFollette Park in 1991 until 2004 at Columbus Park. Garfield Park Little League is currently operating at Garfield Park.

    • Duane, the intention is to never meant to make it seem as if we are inventing fire here for the first time. What we are trying to accomplish here is to get the Austin community together with all the talent they have here and achieve something hopefully big. We have a boatload of talented ball players here. I want them to have the opportunity to try and make it to PA. I just hope that we don’t do the “Crabs in a Barrel” scenario, and truly get together, and make this work. I definitely need your help as well as others. I know how you spearheaded the LL that was at Columbus, and I know you are pushing for baseball to get back at Columbus. It took you a couple of times to get me to see the vision, and I am glad that I have (Sorry it took so long LOL). I am chomping at the bit to get this going, and I hope that I can get people like you to step in and help out. I will be the first to tell you I can not do this alone, but I will tell you with the talent we have here, NOW is our time.

  2. But Garfield is in the Garfield/Lawndale area. Not Austin. There has not been a lil league in this community for a long time, and its time one came back. I wanna see black kids playing baseball again. I like baseball, and I want to see black kids playing in the lil league world series, and if it is our kids, man that would be great. I don’t care where it started, bring it back.

    • I agree with David. I don’t care when it started, cause it don’t seem like it lasts, and these kids in the neighborhood don’t have anything. It’s a shame. I will be 53 years old this year, and I can still remember playing baseball. I live right across the street from Levin Park, and I see some boys practicing at the park last year, but they couldn’t play there, because the fields were so bad. I hope they fix the fields so the kids can play there instead of hanging on the streets killing each other. I’m not a racist, but I honestly get tired of seeing just the white kids on TV playing the Chinese. I wanna see the young brothers out there doing their thing. I hope the Austin Little League makes it on TV and wins. That would be great. Good luck, and God bless.

  3. Hey Duane, I understand what you are saying. This Little League will encompass the whole entire Austin Community. There have been a lot of people to question why we have not had a Little League program for years. We have had a lot of youth league baseball that was independent of Little League. So local parks may have started the program, for that local area, but we want this to be for the whole Austin community to join, and have a great time. It will be great this year, and even better in 2012 when ALL has Columbus Park as its new home. 🙂

    • The League will start in May. We are registering kids at this point and time. Please make sure you come to the Westside Health Authority at 5437 w. Division. I am usually here til 6pm. You can reach me at 773-378-5034 if you have any questions

  4. Damn, if thomas bowling is coach tommy. That dude been coaching since i was a shawty. man he be on it. hey if you are coach tommy this is reggie that use to play with the pirates at amendsen park. i owe u and coach bruce a lot man. I got to harold washington, and I am studying to be a teacher. man i hope yall do good with the baseball little league. i want to see yall playing on tv.

  5. Little League baseball is bigger than Garfield, Lafollette as well as Chicago. It is an opportunity for our young people to compete with teams from beyond our local borders, to learn commitment and to build character. Our children need exposure. They need to see that there is a world beyond the neighborhood. The children of Austin have the opportunity to compete in an international tournament. That is awesome.

  6. I want to know what the Alderman is doing to help. They talk about helping the kids, and this should be one program that they assist with. Debra Graham, and Emma Mitts should be helping out, but we know how that goes. They will smile in your face, then turn their back on the kids. Hey Austin Talks, ask the Alderman to help the kids out.

  7. Mr. Taylor,

    I can not tell you what happened to the other programs. I was not involved in their programs at the time. I will give you a little history on what I have done. I began coaching baseball at Amundsen Park back in the early 90’s and I have coached players from age 4 on up. I became one of the league admins and learned how to manage the budgets, stay in touch with parents, and give them updates on all events. Made sure the schedule was set in stone, and collaborated with the park supervisor to make sure the any of the fields that needed to be up to par, got what they needed. Our seasons went well, and then I moved on to Lafollette park. We joined with the park that had a ‘Cubs Care” style of baseball and we assisted in making more of a competitive league. We had over 300 kids playing. Our next push was to compete in travel ball. Our teams were called the Wolfpack. We have age divisions from 10u all the way up to college. Our players have been all over the city, suburbs, and out of the state (Iowa, and Indiana, and Wisconsin). Little League gave a great presentation on why we should join, and had us sold. We are pushing really hard to make this work, and I will encourage any and everyone to help us out. This is not a closed door thing, we want all to join in. This is about the community taking care of the kids. So if you want in Mr. Taylor, please send me your email address, and I will let you know when the next meeting will be. My email is wsyl2008@yahoo.com

  8. Little League Baseball is an organization in itself. All kids need a positive outlet and need to be involved in something. Extracurricular activities isn’t just a positive for kids health, it’s also a positive for their education. Studies show that kids involved in extracurricular activities become more well rounded students.

    • Go head with your bad self…. I see all that money being spent on you at NIU is working out….. Look out Walter Kronkite, here comes that new age journalist, Ray Ray….. 🙂

  9. I think this will be a good thing. It’s good to see black men stepping up to the plate and taking care of our young black men. I hope and wish everyone much success.

  10. Mr. Bowling,

    Congratulations on a great endeavor. The game of baseball helped a lot of us stay focused and navigate the hood. I am excited about having young people playing baseball so close to home. I would love to get involved in supporting the league as my schedule allows. I also have some baseballs to donate to the league. They would need to be picked up. I will email you regarding that donation and hope you will continue to see me as a support and resource to help you get this league to the top!!

  11. I want to let everyone know that we will be hosting a clinic at San Miguel Elementary on March 19th at 4pm. Its a free clinic, and the Dominican University baseball players will be giving the training. All are welcome to come.

  12. Question is why aren’t all the parks in Austin involved with this? I know that some parks like lafollette and moore and columbus should play baseball. Where are all the black kids at to play there.

    • We are trying to engage the parks to let them know about LL. We can talk to Columbus about their kids, but the their diamonds won’t be ready until 2012. There is going to be a major renovation for the fields. I am really excited about that.

  13. Now that the election is over, have you talked to the Alderman? I wanna know what are they gonna do to help. They ran around begging people for votes. Now we gave them our votes what are they gonna do to help the kids. Hey Emma help the kids. Hey Deborah help the kids. I’ll bet anyone they’ll say they can’t help. They always say that. But we know about the TIF money. So step up and help out.

    • Good morning Mr. Hubbard,

      I have not spoken with any of the Alderman as of yet. I will actually go to their offices today, to let them know that there will be a little league program. I hope that the response will be positive. Thank you for asking and I hope that you as well as others keep replying.

  14. I think any effort to engage with youth in a positive way should be supported. I think @Thomas Bowling is right. Nothing is perfect. But you shouldn’t sacrifice the good in a quest for perfection!

    Keep up the good work

  15. Just to give everyone an update, I went over to Alderman Graham and Alderman Mitts offices. I gave them both a letter explaining that Austin has a Little League program and we need their support. I truly hope they respond. We need our leaders to step up and help out.

  16. I wanna know if you are going to let the kids in the schools know about the baseball, If I didn’t read this I wouldn’t have known about this.

    • We have tried to get in the schools to talk to the kids. Its been hard to get into schools., I can say Robert Emmett has been great, and the kids have been signing up. I would hope the other schools would at least give the kids the flyers to take home to the parents.

  17. When will the games be played. I live by Columbus Park. I have kids that live in my apartment building that play football all the time. They are always running around. They need a little structure. They are not bad kids, just busy

  18. Mr. Bowling, I know how you are about baseball, as I have seen you coach in the past at Lafollette. I know that you have stole kids from parks to build this power team to go out and win games and you leave the other parks with no kids. Why do you do that?

    • Good morning Ms. Pierce,

      If you know how I am about coaching, then you know my passion. You know that I will do just about anything for any kid. I treat all of the kids like they are my own children. Now for your question about me stealing kids, let me say this. I don’t steal kids. If I steal a kid, that means I am kidnapping a child. Now if you mean I take kids and put them in my program, then you are wrong again. The parents bring the kids to me. I want you to see it in this way. You go to Store A and Store B. Store A gives you better service and has a lot more to offer than Store B. Store B may or may not be cheaper on some of their items, but the service is lousy, no one in the store knows anything about the products they sell. You as a consumer would go to store A. Am I correct?

      I choose to begin a travel ball program because PARENTS came to me and asked if I would start one. I was reluctant to do so, because I did not know the level of dedication I would get. I am very happy to say, that all the parents were dedicated.

      Now Little League has stepped into the picture, and everyone knows who they are and what they are about. PARENTS have been asking for years to join LLI in the area, and no want took the initiative to do so. Now that we have the opportunity, lets take advantage of it. I have invited the parks (like LaFollette, Moore, Amundsen, and Columbus) to come out and make this a great league. Whether they respond or not is up to the leaders of those parks.

      But to say I stole kids from any park…. No mam I did not, the parents just asked me to get a program going that would help enhance the game of baseball for the kids who wanted more.

      So please come out and see what we are doing with the league. We have an open door policy for the meetings that are held every other Thursday (The next one will be on 3-17-11 @ 5437 W. Division – Westside Health Authority).

    • Well if a kids wants to get better, don’t he play better comp? if he is taking kids and traveling with them, then it sounds like travel ball, and you have to go out there with the best of the best. Tanya you trippin, don’t nobody steal kids. We know you doin the lafollette thing. Don’t drink the kool-aid baby. Open your eyes. You must be mad cause your kid wasn’t good enough to make a travel team. If kids want true comp, they better get with a travel team. That’s the only way they will get better. Ask the Wolfpack or JRW, they will tell you what comp looks like.

  19. Well I also know Coach Tommy, and I also know that the stuff you are trying to say about him is not true. I also know who put you up to saying that stuff, so please tell the truth and shame the devil. Coach Tommy has been coaching for years, and the kids love playing for him. My son played for another team and coach still gave him instructions on something he needed help on. I use to hear the rumors, but I was not one to listen to all that crap. If the kids and the parent want to go with him, so be it. That’s why I am signing my son up for the Austin Little League. If the coach is involved in this, the kids will get someone who will care about them, and try to get the best out of them. People need to stop following others who ain’t going nowhere especially when they just don’t like people for no reason, and try to put lies on them.

  20. Good afternoon all,

    I know it’s been week or 2, but I would like to give everyone an update on what has been going on. I have spoken with Alderman Graham, and she has given us support with the program. She will advertise our flier on her social network sites, and will also invite us out to speak at the local parks in Austin, and to the local pastors in Austin about the program so that the word can get out. Also the clinic we held was a huge success. We had coaches and older kids working with the younger players, and parents are starting to really come out and register.

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