A Chandler resident has taken the lead on providing an outlet for 12-year-olds of Chandler National Little League after the season was canceled because of the pandemic.
John May admits he didn’t take news of Chandler National’s spring season being canceled lightly when it was announced on May 2. To him, he saw the final opportunity of coaching his son, Brodie, slip away.
“This was supposed to be the spring for him to take a shot at going deep into the tournaments but that was kind of torn away from them,” May said. “That was heartbreaking for the families involved.”
May began brainstorming options to host a season for 12-year-olds still interested in playing. He reached out to families involved with Chandler National to determine their interest. Some, naturally, were hesitant based on the uncertainty of how the pandemic will continue to unfold in the coming months. But many, however, expressed interest.
May got in contact with Eric Bell, a co-state director for USSSA Baseball. After a short conversation, plans were set in motion for the Snedigar Summer League.
“We needed an umbrella to run it under that had liabilities and the structure in place,” May said. “I have developed a good relationship with Eric over the years and I told him we had kids that wanted to play and if we could run it under his umbrella and have it sanctioned under USSSA. He said, ‘yeah, absolutely.’”
May contacted local businesses for fundraising. Chandler Compadres, a local nonprofit, donated a large lump sum to help May exceed $11,000 in less than two weeks.
As of Tuesday, May 26, he was still hoping for at least $1,600 more to fully cover the cost of the season. But with the funds he was already able to raise, every player is able to play for free.
The league officially begins on Monday, June 1.
“It’s therapeutic I think for everybody,” May said. “It was difficult to be sheltered in place for so long. We all agreed we had to do something for these kids.”
There are 10 teams in total, all of which came from Chandler National. Most of the 120 players remained on their respective teams from Little League. Others were placed on teams with open spots to even out the rosters.
All games are scheduled to be played at Snedigar Sports Complex in Chandler, the same location Chandler National was scheduled to take place this spring. While Chandler National is not involved, May said the league helped him secure the fields.
Each team will play nine regular-season games, with the last concluding on June 16. From there, a double-elimination style tournament will run through the end of June to determine a “champion.”
Safety measures have been adopted by May for the league. Coaches will be the only ones allowed in dugouts and will maintain 6-feet of distance from one another. Players will line up outside of the dugout 6-feet apart and stand behind safety nets. Spectators will also be asked to spread out.
May said he finds joy in being able to provide a season for 12-year-old players from Chandler National. He aims to give them some level of normalcy despite all the drastic changes that have taken place over the course of the last three months.
Overall, he wants them to find joy in playing the sport they love. And if it helps take their minds off of the uncertainty that is still present in today’s society, that makes it all the more worthwhile.
“A lot of things had to line up and it looks like they are lining up the way we need them to,” May said. “It’s super exciting to be able to do something like this for those kids.”