LUMBERTON — Tucked behind the Bill Sapp Recreation Center are the fields used by the Lumberton Youth Baseball Assocation.
It’s a place that holds fond memories for Carey Read, who is co-president of the organization.
“I have four children and my family grew up at that ballpark at Bill Sapp,” Read said. “My two youngest ones were little girls and from the time they were in diapers all the way up until my boys aged out, we basically spent our springs and summers at the ballpark. I had the greatest memories and I think they had great memories. I think it’s just a great family place to be.”
With the spring approaching, Read is hoping other families in the area will start to spend time there as well. Registration for the upcoming season is ongoing as LYBA continues a tradition that that Read co-founded in 1997.
Registration continues Monday and Tuesday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Bill Sapp, and from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. the rest of the week. The cost is $30 per player, $55 for two children, or $80 for three.
With a participation declining in recent years, Read said recently the organization has refocused its aim to be more friendly to the casual player. He said that in the past too much emphasis was placed on all-star teams rather than the recreational season.
“I’m as competitive as anybody. When I coach, I coach to win as long, as we can play and we tried as hard as we can to win baseball games,” Read said. “But once you cross over to making the all-stars more important than the recreation program, then that kid who just wants to go out and put the uniform on 15 times a year with his buddies and call it a year, the kid gets left behind and those are the kids we’re losing.”
He said that changes have been made so that an emphasis is placed on teaching kids the fundamentals and letting them enjoy the game.
“We’re starting back at the ground roots, trying to get all of our coaches coached up on a certain way that we’re doing things and that’s the primary focus is just fun and development,” Read said.
As such, prospective players don’t need to be well-versed in the game. Read said nearly every age groups is accommodating for players new to to the game and that numerous lessons beyond the game.
“In the broadest sense, I think a kid develops what he does at any team sport,” Read said. “He learns to share, he learns to compete, he learns to win gracefully and he learns to lose gracefully. He learns to work towards a goal, especially with baseball.”