January 1, 2022
Dear OYO Families and Friends,
Greetings! It is so exciting to ring in another New Year at OYO! Welcome 2022!
I believe, of course, there is always, always something to be thankful for. I also believe there is always something to look forward to.
As I enter the second year of being president of this amazing league, I have reflected quite a bit about all of the great things that happened in 2021, and I look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store.
OYO has been the source of smiles, laughs, family time, player development, fun for kids, exciting baseball and softball, collaboration, community outreach, encouragement, coaching and teaching. OYO also has been a source of hope. Hope of being together again, giving high fives again, working as a team again and cheering on our favorite ballplayers again. Being at the ballpark on a beautiful day surrounded by OYO families and friends is a hopeful reminder that life will return to normal following the pandemic and we are all in it together.
It is such an honor to continue to serve this league as President of the Board of Directors, following a very successful 2021! In reflecting on what we, together, accomplished as a league, we…
- welcomed more than 800 eager ballplayers in the spring
- welcomed a record high 712 excited fall ball players
- had more than 150 ballplayers continuing their development in our winter workout program
- saw our full-time travel participation climb to 126 elite players
- offered a successful rec travel program consisting of 10 teams last spring
- raised a record setting $43,000 in revenue through our generous community sponsorships
- brought back the Bomber Bash full-time travel tournament and hosted 22 talented teams
- attracted a record setting 52 teams to the David Manlove Memorial Tournament, and through participation and generous contributions, were able to bless the Manlove family with a sizeable check for The 24 Group, a foundation for those affected by addiction
- reinstated the Bill Sturm Memorial Tournament, a tournament near and dear to our hearts, as it is named for one of OYO’s founders, and provides funds for scholarships
- saw a very successful year in our concession stand, turning a $12,000 profit, as everyone loved (and bought a lot of) the famous “OYO Cheeseburgers,” blue popsicles, and Gatorades
We are most proud of the feedback of those who mean the most to us, the OYO Families. You spoke by way of the survey. We listened. We saw a 10% increase in OYO families’ commitment to the league. That data means the most to us because you and your ballplayers are the reason this league exists. We strive in every way to put the needs of the players, families and community first. We understand there is always room to improve, grow and get better. We encourage every family in the league to complete the satisfaction survey in the spring and again in the fall. We promise to listen to your feedback and do our best make necessary changes to provide a quality, thriving program.
The year 2021, however successful, had its shares of ups and downs. Many of our highlights are listed above, but certainly we experienced a few challenges, also. We did our best to face those challenges head on, do our best to overcome those challenges with solutions and learn from past mistakes. One of the challenges we experienced was coming to the realization that the size and scope of Veterans Memorial Park was becoming challenging to maintain by volunteers alone due to the growth of the league. We overcame that challenge by hiring a Grounds and Facilities Manager. He is onsite most days and he is doing a phenomenal job, along with the volunteer grounds crew, to maintain and beautify the dozens of acres that OYO calls home. This talented individual and his crew can’t do it all, though! We absolutely depend upon the help and support of our families all year long. There’s nothing better than rolling up your sleeves as a family, coming out to the park and working together, alongside other families, to accomplish a task, complete a project or beautify our park. We continue to covet your help and volunteerism in 2022! Another challenge in 2021 was the loss of our fall ball tournament due to immense amounts of rain in late October. We wanted so badly to make that tournament happen for all the hard working ball players in our league. It just wasn’t meant to be. We did learn, however, the threshold of water the fields can and cannot handle, the resources we need to prepare fields for such a weather event, necessary improvements needed on each field, and what it takes logistically to reschedule a fall rec tournament. We will take that experience and learn from it and we will certainly hope for drier weather in the fall of 2022!
In the coming year, my hope for myself, my colleagues on the Board, every coach, every worker, every volunteer and every fan is to:
- Put the kids first always
- Be slow to speak and quick to listen
- Accept responsibility for shortcomings and strive to improve them
- Be invested and involved in our roles within the league
- Roll up our sleeves together and pitch in when and where needed
- Use our voices to bring about change, advocate for needs and share new ideas – every person plays a part because without each of us, our league is a little less effective than it could be and should be
OYO continues to have an excellent relationship with the City of Lawrence. We will continue to do our part to care for Veterans Memorial Park, while they support us in every way they are able. Some of our investment asks for 2022 include drainage solutions, new gutters on concession stands, enhanced lighting and paved paths. We will chart a plan for the coming year, in conjunction with the city’s assistance, to complete these important tasks.
Friends, it is my honor to be a part of this league. If you had told me just a few short years ago that I would be back in Lawrence – the city my husband and I both grew up in – be a teacher in a sweet school nearby and be raising our kids here, I wouldn’t have believed it. Even better is to be part of an organization that brings the community together. It’s inclusive. It’s a place where kids can learn baseball and softball, no matter the age they begin. It’s a place that puts character and sportsmanship first, then follows it with quality instruction. OYO is a special place, indeed.
Would you join me, in the coming year, to make OYO the best place for youth baseball and softball in the area? I am asking not because we have the most pristine fields or the spiffiest uniforms or the largest donors, but because we are situated in the great City of Lawrence and we have the kindest, most generous families around! We truly love our ballplayers and families. Our kids are resilient and talented. They deserve the best childhood memories and experiences we can possibly give them. May this year bring us all renewed hope and new opportunities to both enjoy and give back to this awesome community and league!
May this be our best year ever!