By Joe Morey
At their weekly meeting, Monday, March 1st, The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved using $100,000 from Enbridge funds to financially support LCO Youth Baseball through expanding the program and majorly improving the casino ball field complex.
The new plan increases youth baseball at LCO from one age level to three. In addition to the existing LCO Little League team (9-12 year olds), the Tribe will now sponsor a Babe Ruth program (ages 13-15) and a Cal Ripken machine pitch developmental age group (ages 6-8).
The financial support request was presented by Joe Morey and George Taylor Jr after a couple of parent meetings to determine the needs of the program to add Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken age levels to the existing Little League.
They asked the TGB to continue supporting LCO Youth Baseball in achieving its goals of providing a positive atmosphere and encouraging drug and alcohol free activities through athletic competition.
“Last year, our Little League team won the Championship of the Southern Sawyer County Little League competing against some tough competition from Winter, Ladysmith and Ojibwa,” The Plan stated. “And then our kids went on to win a tournament in Glen Flora.”
Most of those youth moved on to the next age level, Babe Ruth, and LCO didn’t have a team. Coach Taylor will be coaching the new older team with kids from the past two years of Little League. A new younger developmental age group has also been started with Marie Wooten and Michael Quaderer coaching. Morey will take over coaching the Little League team.
The Tribe has agreed to purchase all new equipment (bats, gloves, helmets, uniforms, and cleats) for all age groups as well as new catcher equipment for each level.
The plan also includes building a third baseball field for Babe Ruth level south of the current two fields. The new field will include fencing, two dugouts, bleachers and a new digital scoreboard. A new scoreboard will also be added to the Little League field closest to Hwy B. The TGB previously approved re-doing both infields of the current ball fields and installing a playground under Covid relief funds.
LCO Youth Baseball plans to host a couple of tournaments this summer, either inter-tribal or open events and will be inviting other Tribal teams to play at the new fields in exhibition games, in addition to traveling to statewide tournaments and to compete against Little Earth team of Minneapolis. The financial support from the TGB will help make all this possible.
In addition to tournaments and exhibition games, at the end of the season, the budgeting allows the parents to take all the teams to a Twins game, provided they are allowing spectators at that time, and to take a field trip to a water park or other activity.
And finally, the financial support includes purchasing a utility shed for storing a new riding mower and pitching machine, both to be purchased under the plan, and the other team equipment.
The parents of the youth will be engaged in fundraising through selling banner ad placements on the fields, concession sales and various raffles throughout the season to help with other costs.
LCO Youth Baseball doesn’t charge the parents for their youth to participate in the program. It’s completely free for any youth to enlist. Parents are just encouraged to get involved in the development of their children through the program by attending games, practices and helping in any other way they can, including with fundraising efforts.
In conclusion, Morey and Taylor thanked the TGB for continued support of the youth through sports.
“This is huge for our community and it’s something that we see will continue to grow and develop our kids for many years into the future,” Taylor said. “Miigwech tribal leaders for what you’ve done today. It’s going to make an impact on many lives.”
If you’d like to get your kid signed up for baseball this year, contact George Taylor Jr at 715-321-4145 or Joe Morey at 715-699-6014.