By Harry Smith/Special to the Gazette
The 45th season of the JP Regan Youth League has come to a close with another great year of tight pennant races, thrilling championship games, and friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. The League continued to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood, with 850 boys and girls playing more than 300 games on fields across Jamaica Plain.
This season featured spirited races in every division with the championships going right down to the wire. In the Softball division, Boing! edged Fire Opal in a wild final game to win the AA championship, while in the tightly contested AAA division, Ellen’s House Child Care defeated Strategy Matters in the finals to take their first championship.
In the baseball Farm division, the race came right down to the end with JPNDC taking first place and Buzzelle Custom Carpentry and The Power Company right behind tied for second. In the Junior division, Real Property Management and Bella Luna made strong runs through the playoffs to get to the finals, with Real Property Management winning a one-run nail-biter in the championship game. In Seniors, Morrison’s Auto-Rite defeated Classic Cleaners to take the title, while in the Pony Division, the JP Seafood Café Pirates topped the defending champs, Hyde Square Task Force Orioles, in a best-two-out-of-three final. In the A Softball and Teeball divisions, more than 150 youngsters played spirited games every Saturday throughout the season.
The closing ceremonies on June 28 featured the first-ever end of year parade, to make up for the cancellation of the Opening Day Parade due to stormy weather. The parade featured hundreds of players and their families marching down Centre Street on a beautiful June day, accompanied by the sounds of The Regan League All-Star Band and Alexander Faria y us Grupo. The parade ended at Daisy Field, where the season was closed out with the Annual Picnic, which included all-star games, food, award presentations and raffle prizes.
Juniors coach Jodi Sugerman-Brozan and AAA Softball Coach Dan Styklunas received the Jamie Winshall Awards as the baseball and softball coaches who demonstrated the highest principles of sportsmanship over the course of the season. The players from JPNDC sold the most raffle tickets and were rewarded with tickets for the team to an upcoming Boston Red Sox game. Thanks to the work of Bill Perkins and his assistants, the picnic was a green event, with more than 95 percent of all trash recycled or composted.
With the conclusion of the spring season, the league is sending several teams to the Mayor’s Cup baseball and softball tournaments to represent the neighborhood against teams from around the city. There is also a team of JP players competing in the 2014 U12 Summer City-Wide Baseball League. Thanks to a special $20,000 grant from the MLB Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the Regan League has been able to expand its summer and fall programming to include travel baseball teams in the 13-15 and 16-19 age groups, including support for equipment and uniforms.
The JP Regan Youth League is also running the Al McCourt Summer Pony baseball league for boys and girls ages 13-15, thanks to sponsorships from Extra Space Storage, Interstate Rental Service, Southern JP Health Center, SuperFlash T-Shirts, and Star Market Prudential, and funding from the city’s Boston Center for Youth and Families Summer Fun grant.
Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and organizations which donated $25,000 to help run 54 teams and keep registration fees affordable for all families. We especially thank League Sponsors: Boston Children’s Hospital, Morrison’s Auto-Rite, Interstate Rental Service, Hyde Square Task Force, Extra Space Storage and Pondside Dental. Thanks also to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and state Department of Conservation and Recreation for their help in making this a successful season. Special thanks go to the hundreds of volunteers who made the league a success this year, especially the coaches who gave young people the chance to learn new skills and make new friends in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Most of all we want to thank the young people who played hard, listened to their coaches, and displayed great sportsmanship throughout the season.
Registration for the 2015 spring season will be held in March 2015. For more information about the JP Regan Youth League visit reganyouthleague.org.
Harry Smith is President of the Jamaica Plain Regan Youth League.