We have been hard at work here at WLL trying to accommodate the changes brought to our league by Little League’s decision to adjust the age determination date. We recognize that this change has caught many off guard. However, Little League’s decision has also spawned some outside-the-box thinking here at WLL. What is outlined in this email is one of the ways that WLL hopes to balance out the effects of this age determination date change in our Rookie Division. We are excited about the potential of this new idea and hope you will be too. Read on for details of this exciting development!
As you all are hopefully aware of now, Little League has changed the age determination date for many of our players. As you can see at the link below, the “league age” of those players with May – December birth dates in or after 2006 just became a year older, according to the new Little League rules. In order to minimize the impact of this mandated rule change, if your player’s birth date is in May-December of 2006, 2008, & 2010, Western is giving you the choice concerning which division your child will join: (1) you can move up a division using the December 31 birth date deadline, or (2) you may remain in the division that you would have been in under the April 30 deadline. More information concerning this change, and who it affects, can be found at http://www.wllbb.com/News.asp?org=wllbb.com#276009.
This change has the potential to have the most impact on our Rookie Division. The reason for this is that WLL has given parents the option of allowing their nine year old, who would have been just eight under the old age determination date, to play "down" in Rookie as opposed to playing in Minors. In addition, there is another cohort of younger players now eligible to play Rookie who are now seven under the new age rule and who would have been six under the old rule and still playing in the Teeball Division. The net effect is that WLL is expecting the Rookie Division to be larger this season than in seasons past. With this age change, WLL is also expecting a more diverse skill set among our Rookie players.
Given this confluence of factors, WLL is implementing the following adjustment to Rookie for this season. It is anticipated that the Rookie Division will be split into two sub-divisions. A "majors" and "minors" Rookie if you will. The "majors" Rookie Division will be for our more advanced and/or older players. The "minors" Rookie division will be mostly composed of younger or less experienced players. The reasons behind this decision are two-fold. The first is to ensure safety for all players in the division. There can be quite a bit of physical and skill difference between the age extremes that we will now potentially see in the division. The second reason is one of furthering our on-going attempt at creating parity in the division. It is the board's vision that by splitting the division, we will be able to create two sub-divisions where parity will exist within each sub-division of Rookie. This creates a better learning environment for the players as well as a better instructional environment for the coaches. Each sub-division will have its own standings and a tournament at the conclusion of the regular season.
This begs the natural question of how players will be placed. WLL has always tried to honor coach requests at the Rookie Division level. We will continue to attempt to honor these to the best of our abilities within the new two sub-division framework. Like last spring, we will evaluate all new -- defined as never having played a spring season of Rookie at WLL -- players to the division at our league evaluations in February. In addition, we are asking all returning players to also be evaluated. This is to help league officials better understand the skill levels of individual players so that balanced teams can be created. Therefore, all Rookie players are required to attend the league evaluations on February 21st at Champions. More information from the league will follow on the time for the evaluation. The evaluation will be short, and this is not a tryout. As was the case last year in Rookie, each team will have space allotted for four players of each skill level, where the skill level is determined through the evaluation process. It is within this skill level framework that we will try to accommodate requests. Please keep in mind that no request is ever guaranteed. All players of age to play in Rookie will be allowed to play in the division barring a safety concern.
WLL will reserve the right to revert to a one division structure in Rookie if the board feels that the number of registered players is insufficient to support the two sub-division format.
As is always the case with trying something new, we expect some bumps along the way. We ask that you be patient and work with us while we implement this change. It is our expectation that this will create a much more level playing field among the teams in the Rookie Division which will benefit players of all skill levels. If you have any questions, please direct them to Jon Roenker, WLL Rookie Coordinator, at email@example.com