Twenty years ago, in page three of the Osprey Observer’s March 2002 FishHawk edition, one of our first newspapers, we published a story about local resident Vincent Guarcello trying to open a little league for his community. Though he is no longer a direct part of it, Guarcello’s efforts later led to the league officially forming in 2008 under the name chosen in the original story: FishHawk Youth Baseball (FYB).
“We’ve got over 550 kids in our league, and we do two seasons a year. And we’ve been growing; COVID slowed us down a little bit … but we have been growing exponentially ever since COVID let down a little bit, and we’re able to put the kids back out on the field,” said Tom Murphy, president of FishHawk Youth Baseball.
Children ages 4 to 18 years old can join, and no prior baseball experience is required. In this large league of local kids with about 120 volunteers making the experience a joy for all, FYB has created a great community.
“We want to provide a place for all kids of any skill to be able to play baseball. Also, it does not matter what their economical abilities are, we have scholarships available for kids that don’t have the money to play,” said Murphy, “It’s not about money for this organization at all. Anybody can play.”
He added, “We want the kids to have a place to come and make friends. It’s a fun, competitive environment at times, but, more importantly, anybody can play and feel like they’re a part of it.”
Murphy joined the board because he saw the amazing job it was doing with the kids and in managing all the work involved, and he is glad to lead and be a part of it. Some of the things he loves most are the opening day ceremonies where the kids are amped up in their uniforms for the first time; end-of-season tournaments where they have fun, compete, get a big trophy and get their picture on Facebook; and seeing them progress and become leaders.
“My son’s a 12-year-old now and he’s one of the bigger kids up there, and it’s fun to watch him around the younger ones and help them,” he said.
The group is entirely run by volunteers. Be they board members, coaches, managers, cleanup crew or concession stand operators, everyone is a qualified volunteer. This includes the kids’ parents, who are required to volunteer if their kid wants to be a part of FYB, along with paying a registration fee for each season.
Of course, if you want to volunteer, you don’t need to have a kid in the league. Volunteers are always welcome.
About the people who started it all, Murphy said, “The initial board obviously set the way for us. While it’s a lot of work, and a lot of effort put into it, they’ve done a great job building a great foundation for what I inherited and what I’m trying to build, and I hope I leave it in a little better spot when I eventually step down.”
FishHawk Youth Baseball has been built up by its volunteers; its partnerships with the county, local high schools and its sponsors; and all the people involved. It’s a tough job when there’s so many people, but it’s easy when everyone has the same goal, and Murphy wants to thank everyone for making FYB what it is today.
“We’re creating a sense of community around the baseball field, and I think that’s a really cool thing that has happened over the years,” said Murphy.
For more information about FishHawk Youth Baseball, including how to register your child or volunteer, visit www.fishhawkyouthbaseball.org.