By Tamas Monodvics

Sports_Gavin WhiteFollowing a switch of its league affiliation from Little League to Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth, the Bloomingdale Youth Sports Association (BYSA) has begun its 2014 spring baseball and softball season.

The league’s well attended opening ceremony late last month that drew more than 400 people recognized all of the tee ball teams as the future of the park as well as all of the teams, including regular season and all stars that won a championship in 2013.

BYSA president, Kenny Hawkins, explained that the board of directors voted last November to switch affiliations from Little League for a number of reasons with the emphasis on development and letting all the kids participate and play without change.

“The kids on the field will not see any differences as the baseball and softball on the field is all the same,” Hawkins said, adding that there is a misconception that Cal Ripken is geared toward the more advanced travel player. “That simply isn’t true.”

Hawkins said most of the differences are administrative and after mentioning some of the negative elements—he felt the board is glad to leave behind—mentioned the positives, including boundary issues, which he said gives families a choice to play at the park that is convenient for them.

“We now have an extended boundary and all the girls can legally play at Bloomingdale,” Hawkins said. “We also were able to expand our boundary for boys insuring the future of our park. Unlike Little League, we are able to negotiate with neighboring parks like FishHawk, East Bay and North Brandon to share boundary in neighborhoods that are Sports_Rebecca Wilsonconvenient to more than one park.”

BYSA is joining two other leagues, North Brandon and East Bay, which have recently decided to switch its affiliation to play under the Cal Ripken logo.

“Organizationally, Little League was not providing us, as a larger park, the flexibility we needed to operate to serve our kids in the best manner,” said East Bay Youth Athletics president, Dean Walters.

Confident of the change, Hawkins added that Hillsborough County is thrilled with the decision when he said, “It makes our ability to abide with their field use agreement much easier.”

Of course when it is all said and done, it’s all about the kids who are clearly interested in stepping up to the plate and playing the game they love.

For more information about the Bloomingdale Youth Sports Association, visit


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