Several months after I opened a discussion in this blog about ongoing issues in Upper Dublin’s travel baseball program, I am happy to report that there have been some changes. However, I’m not implying that I had anything to do with them. They are the work of some dedicated parents and coaches who finally said enough is enough. It is true that I had hoped by encouraging a discussion that UD baseball might listen to our voices, both inside and outside of this blog, but in reality they dug their heels in deeper, were defensive and basically kept the status quo. The only significant change that occurred prior to the latest tryouts was the elimination of that horrendous contract. Other than that, the tryouts were basically as they have been. I checked in with parents throughout the league and as before, the U11 and U12 teams still seemed to generate the most controversy. Yet, despite disappointing records, and accusations of unfair tryouts, these two couches and the core of their teams remain. In the case of the U11 coach, I am told he has actually moved from Upper Dublin but despite this he has stayed on and his son has taken one of the 12 coveted spots from a UD player. His past assistant coach’s son also made the team without even attending all of the tryouts. How does this happen? Don’t the other kids who show up for all three tryouts actually deserve the opportunity to be judged against all of their competition? I’m sure he’s a great kid and all, but he isn’t a superstar and shouldn’t have a spot reserved for him because of his family’s relationship with the coach. These are the kinds of maneuvers that make people angry. But, the beat goes on. Frustration with the U12 team truly reached its peak this year. It grew to the point where some parents decided that they needed to find a better choice for their kids, and they did, by starting their own travel team in Ambler. They didn’t just start any team; they started a Cal Ripken team. That’s a level of competition not available to the UD team at this point. And, last I heard, they were joining the Suburban League and leaving the Montco League behind. This will allow these kids to compete against more than 20 teams from all over Montgomery and Bucks Counties, where the Montco league tends to have 4 or five local teams. And, with this change, UD baseball will effectively be shut out of the Suburban League as the new team has registered to accept kids from throughout the area. In their announcement in the Patch inviting kids to try out, they invited players from the area specifically mentioning those who hadn’t made the UD travel team. These guys get it. They know that UD has missed the mark and that there are a lot of talented kids in this area who just want to play baseball at a higher level. They are about inclusion not exclusion. With that in mind, there may be teams in additional age brackets added in Ambler next year. So, the change I had hoped for did not come from UD Travel Baseball, but it did come. And with the new team in Ambler, comes opportunity for more kids to play and improve their game. Listen up, UD Baseball, because that’s what it’s all about.
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