By Frank Rodriguez, CCLL Treasurer
Tucked into a corner of the hills off Sierra Highway and Vasquez Canyon Road, the Canyon Country Little League (CCLL) has been serving the community for more than 50 years.
A small league that offers area youth the opportunity to play baseball and softball from the ages of 4 to 15, CCLL represents the only path in Santa Clarita to Williamsport and the Little League World Series.
Its designation as Non-Profit of the Week, however, is based not on its affiliation with Little League International, but rather the role that it plays in the community. CCLL has been the pathway for thousands of youngsters to get started in baseball or softball, and many of the area’s high school, college and professional star players got their start here.
CCLL is not a large league, with 300-400 players playing there each spring and fall, but it plays a vital role in the community of providing a structured place to learn the game in an environment that teaches the game the right way, in a family setting, without the hyper-competitiveness of larger leagues.
CCLL recognizes that baseball is an expensive game to play, and many parents and children are discouraged from picking up the game because of the cost. One of the goals of the CCLL Board has been to lower entry costs for parents, with a full spring season costing as little as $250 through the junior leagues (ages 13-15), inclusive of umpire and field costs. This is more than 50 percent lower than competing leagues in the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, while costs everywhere are going up, CCLL has been able to lower its registration costs the last two seasons, while offering payment plans and scholarships for families in difficult financial circumstances.
Additionally, CCLL offers the only opportunity for youngsters with special needs to play organized baseball in the spring, with its free Challenger program, in which the players compete with local police officers and firefighters, as well as players in the core program.
A second goal of the CCLL Board has been to make capital improvements to the complex, resulting in the installation of an artificial turf infield on one of the fields, installation of two new scoreboards and plans to improve the snack bar and restroom areas. To this end, a fundraiser Poker Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 14 at the Moose Lodge at 18000 Sierra Highway and the public is invited (for more information and to register, go to ccll.org).
The success of any non-profit is based on the selfless efforts of many volunteers, and CCLL is no different. From its managers, coaches, umpires and team parents to its board members and League President Jorge Diaz and his wife, Melissa, who spend 20 hours per week at the complex during the season, many people are responsible for making CCLL a fun place to play. One person these last few months has gone even beyond that, and is deserving of the title “Hero of the Week.”
The Canyon Country Little League Fundraising and Sponsorship Chair Kimberlee Castro has worked countless hours to help stabilize and promote the league. Kim has knocked on every business door along Sierra Highway asking for donations and sponsorships. Along the way, she’s picked up major donations from Galpin Mazda and Take One Movie Productions for new scoreboards, as well as large donations from Excel Pest Management, Lowe’s, and others.
Kim is currently working on Opening Day, which is scheduled for March 3. She has secured former L.A. Dodgers player, coach and manager Bill Russell to throw out the first pitch. In addition, radio personality Valentine will be announcing the parade of teams and catching the first pitch, and local country star Savannah Burrows will be singing the national anthem.
None of this would be possible without Kimberlee, and CCLL is indebted to her service and dedication.
Goings On at CCLL – Everyone’s Invited!
Opening Day: Parade of teams, carnival, bake sale, games – Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
First Games: Saturday, March 10, 2018
Fundraiser Poker Tournament – Saturday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. at Mint Canyon Moose Lodge, 18000 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country
Hosting District 40 Softball Tournament of Champions – June 2, 2018
Hosting District 40 Softball All Stars – June 23, 2018