The Napoleon Senior Little League canceled its 2020 season Friday, citing falling numbers within the program due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
League president Todd Geahlen said the league didn’t have enough registered participants to field half the number of teams it traditionally has.
“The number one issue for us was numbers,” Geahlen said. “The league has always had eight teams. Last year, it was down a little bit and dropped to seven. Going into yesterday (Thursday), we had 36 kids registered, and that includes returning players from last year.
“We didn’t even have enough for four teams,” Geahlen added.
Geahlen said another factor in the decision was the amount of time it would have taken to get the league up to speed.
“It’s already the end of May, and you’re looking at one to two weeks of organizing and then another couple of weeks of practices,” Geahlen said. “At that rate, it’s the beginning of July before you’re starting games, and you’re running into football season, if they have it. You don’t want to pull kids in different directions.
“Another problem is we have to share equipment,” Geahlen added. “You’re asking parents to provide the bats and the pads, and they don’t want anyone to share equipment right now. That’s a tough position to be in.”
Geahlen, who has spent 15 years as an organizer for the league, said the decision to shut down the 2020 season was not an easy one.
“This has weighed heavily on my shoulders for a couple of months now since this all started,” Geahlen said. “I don’t even have kids in the league anymore, but this league is a part of my family. It wasn’t an easy decision for any of us, but we wanted to stop pushing this along and just make a decision.”
Despite the low numbers for this season, Geahlen said he is confident the problem is temporary.
“This league has always been one of the better youth programs in the area,” Geahlen said. “The numbers are usually there. If the regulations lighten up in time, we’d love to do something in the fall. We’d need some volunteers, and it wouldn’t be a league format, but it would be nice to try and give us something.
“Next year will be tricky without having played this season, so it’ll be a bit of a rebuilding process,” Geahlen added. “But the numbers will be back. The league will be fine.”