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North Newark Baseball

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Sep, 2022

2023 Shrine Tournament Update

September 13, 2022

Dear North Newark Families,

The NNLL Board of Directors would like to take this opportunity to address rumors you may have heard surrounding our continued participation in the Licking County Shrine Tournament. Unfortunately, information gets leaked, either by mistake or intentionally, that provides only a small piece of the story. This creates confusion and conjecture. We simply want to be transparent with you and provide all the information we have available to us currently.

First, to address any rumor that NNLL has decided to no longer participate in the Licking County Shrine Tournament; it is true that if the tournament were held today, North Newark Little League would not be participating in the tournament in any capacity. This decision was a unanimous decision by our board, and it was not arrived at lightly. Many of us are coaches that have coached in the tournament and many of us have one or more children who have played in the tournament. It was a gut-wrenching decision that we did not want to make, but we were forced into making a decision we felt was in the best interest of our league.

To explain how we have reached this point, it is important to summarize the last few years of discussions and rule changes related to our North Newark Naturals program and the eligibility of those players associated with that program. First, we need to make clear that NNLL has been and always will be a recreational league first organization. However, we also believe in providing as many development opportunities as possible to our players who choose to pursue them, and we do not believe that a player’s desire to work hard and become better at a sport they love should in any way compromise their ability to play with their team in the tournament. That is a non-negotiable for us.

Three years ago, when North Newark decided we would implement a Select program to keep kids in our league, we approached the Shrine Committee with full transparency regarding the program and what the structure would be. At that time everyone agreed that what we were doing was acceptable but that there should be a maximum amount of those “Select” players on each team in order prevent stacking a team. NNLL complied and continues to comply with those limits. The following season, the committee added a new rule that defined an “Elite Player” and that no team could have more than two per age and that they were ineligible to pitch. NNLL complied with that rule by withdrawing from all non-Recreational tournaments and limiting the amount of competition our Select players would participate in.

Now, for the third year in a row, there is yet another change that redefines an “Elite Player.” Now any player that participates in our Select program is considered an “Elite Player” and is ineligible to participate with their rec league team in the Shrine Tournament and would be forced to play in an entirely different travel division tournament. This tournament would include teams from outside of Licking County which runs directly against one of the core principles of the tournament, to have only Licking County teams participate. There was no advance notice of this rule change, nor were we given any opportunity to participate in any discussion and vote on the rule change. This rule change was unilaterally imposed on us.

To this point, we have done everything we could to comply with the Shrine Committee’s ongoing rule amendments that are specifically targeted towards our league. We have been transparent and forthright from the beginning with what we are trying to accomplish with this program and our plan is working for our league. We were forced into a situation where unfortunately our entire league would have been affected and we were not willing to let that happen. We realize the impact that not playing in the Shrine Tournament will have on our players. It is heartbreaking for those kids, especially our oldest players who are in their last year of eligibility. However, we have a duty to NNLL first, and we will not allow our league to be run by a select few individuals who are not affiliated with us.

As for our path forward, we have requested a face-to-face meeting with the Shriners to continue to discuss this change in the hopes that they will see what a devastating impact their decision will have to not allow all our players in the tournament. To date, we have not been granted a meeting. We have begun the planning process for an alternate tournament to the Shrine, hosted by North Newark. How that will look and what it will entail remains to be seen. I can promise you this; as your league President, you have my word that I and the board will do everything possible to attempt to get this unfair rule change eliminated. We remain committed to being a part of the Shrine Tournament as we have been for over 50 years, but we will only do that if it includes ALL our players playing for their rec division teams. We will not select who can play and who cannot, nor will we allow a small group of individuals to do so.

We thank you for your continued support and dedication to our great league and we remain committed to providing you and your children the best baseball experience in the best Little League that Ohio has to offer.

The North Newark Little League Board of Directors

Jeremy Davis     Chris Fluharty     Wes Luce     Shannon Mclaughlin     Travis Schwab

Jamie Cox         Eric Peterson     Jim Hamilton     Adam Houdeshell      Chris Griley

Mike O’Neill    Jeff Fleeger     Denny Eveland     Crae Green     Jeremy Schiele

Jeremy Myers    Nick Miller     Rob Bentz     Jason Miller

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