PEMBROKE — The town of Pembroke Department of Parks and Recreation received its charter last week to start a Little League baseball program this spring for kids from 4- to 12-years-old.
This change takes the department’s youth baseball league out from the Dixie Youth program and now into a program that allows more autonomy. This also makes Pembroke the only parks and recreation department in Robeson County that has a Little League charter.
“I don’t see a lot of new things, but this year we were with a different organization that ran our program, and this year the town runs the program itself,” said Phil Harper, the director of the parks and recreation department in Pembroke. “The town was looking to go a different direction than it had in the past. It felt like it was a better program for our youth in the community.
“All the games of which will be played at the park. Again, I think it will be a smoother transition with everything being ran by the department, like all the other programs.”
West Robeson Baseball Association still operates under a Dixie Youth Charter and has been absorbed by the Robeson County Parks and Recreation Department.
Harper has worked with Little League baseball in two previous stops as at parks and recreation dapartments in Pinehurst and Fayetteville-Cumberland and said this move benefits the kids most of all.
Ryan Sampson, a member of the parks and Recreation advisory board, said having an asset like Harper with all his experience in other departments has been a plus for the town. Sampson also serves on the town’s council.
“Phil was a great hire and his experience working with Little League will help us out this year,” he said. “Little League first reached out to us a while back and since then he has helped us out by staying in touch with representatives from Little League.”
With the change in program, there are high hopes set for the internationally-known program, but in all Harper sees it as a positive step forward for the town.
“Obviously, it’s new so you know we are going to have high expectations that everything will go off like it should, and there’s a little bit of the unknown, but we are excited for the kids and the community,” Harper said. “We might hit some obstacles, but I feel sure with the staff that I have, the advisory board and the baseball board that I have that we will be just fine.”
Sampson sees the new changes in the program benefiting the youth all across the county with no restrictions for where in Robeson County the child lives to participate.
“Kids from all over can come, no matter if they live in Pembroke or St. Pauls,” he said. “We aren’t exactly sure what to expect numbers wise, but can see it growing once more and more parents hear about it and experience it.”
While baseball in Pembroke has moved away from Dixie Youth, Harper said there is no plan for softball to make the move as well.
Registration is open for all spring sports offered through the Pembroke Department of Parks and Recreation.
Anyone from 4- to 12-years-old as of August 31, 2018 can signup for Little League baseball that runs until March 16. The cost is $25 a player and that includes a jersey. All practices and games will be at the Pembroke Town Park.
March 16 is the last day for registration for anyone wanting to play softball that is 7- to 15-year-olds as of Jan. 1 and soccer for ages 3- to 14-years-old as of Aug. 1. Costs for those programs is $25 a player.
Registration for future athletics tennis lessons for 3- and 4-year-olds lasts until March 23 and costs $15 a child. Classes start at 4:15 p.m. on March 29. Youth tennis lesson signups for 5- to 17-year-olds runs until March 23. Cost is $25 a person and the classes start on March 26 for ages 5 to 8, March 27 for ages 9 to 12 and March 28 for ages 13 to 17.
Adult tennis lessons for anyone 18-years-old and up costs $25 a person and registration ends March 23. Classes start on March 29.
Registrations in person can be done at Town Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Town Hall at 910-521-9758 or the parks and recreation department at 910-521-7182. Forms and schedules can also be found online at https://www.pembrokenc.com/parks—recreation.
The Town of Pembroke will host Opening Day ceremonies on April 9 at 6 p.m.
Signups for the West Robeson Baseball association for anyone from 6- to 12-years-old runs through the middle of March. Registration costs are $10 a player. For more information call 910-671-3090.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.