It all starts with consistency at the top.
Good, solid leadership and guidance running your athletic program will pave the way for a consistent good on-field product every year. And that’s what the North Tonawanda National Little League has.
The NTNLL, which is currently in its 66th year of operations, has a reliable board that features several longtime members who have devoted their lives to the league that is now home to roughly 405 players.
“We’re a grassroots organization,” said league VP Tom Witt, who is in his 33rd year with the NTNLL. “We fully believe in the way little league does things.”
“And we’ve had a supportive board that has been around for a while. Our board of directors members really doesn’t change from year to year.”
Witt, who is also the director of softball for the league, and league president Richard Dentinger, who is also in his 33rd year with the league, were both honored on Opening Day for their years of working with the kids of the league.
The maintenance building was officially named in honor of Dentinger. While the clubhouse now has Witt’s name on it. It was an honor, Witt said, touched them both very deeply.
“It touched us both because neither of us knew this was coming,” Witt said. “I had a feeling because my wife (Shannon) had asked me questions on what teams I had (coached) and what I liked doing down there (at the park). Some of the memories. I thought they were just going to acknowledge my 33 years. I had no idea they were gonna name the building after me. The year I started, I actually helped build the clubhouse.”
But as Witt said, it’s all about the kids and a quick glance at the standings shows that the division races are about as tight as you can get. In baseball, the Dodgers are in first place in the Majors (10-12 age group) with a 4-1-1 record. In the Minors (ages 8-10) it’s the Brewers (6-1) holding off the challenge of the Reds and Pirates, who are both 4-3.
In softball, the Gators are holding down the top spot in the Majors with a 7-0-1 record. The top spot in the Minors is a battle between the Gators (6-1-1) the Canes (6-0-2).
Witt attributes these close battles to the parody that the league has worked so hard to develop over the years. A process that prevents any one team from being stacked and running away with the division.
“This goes back maybe seven-eight years,” Witt said. “We started doing it in seniors. If the boy was an all-star or played on a travel team those boys were divvied out. A pitcher here, pitcher here, pitcher here. Then we asked (their) coaches from the year prior rate these guys 1-to-5 in fielding, hitting. We said it worked in the Seniors so why shouldn’t it work in the Majors? So we did that in the Majors five years ago and that worked so we brought it down to our Minors the year after. Parody works. We do it every year. We re-draw/draft kids every year.”
The NTNLL boundaries also include teams/kids from Grand Island and Lockport which have added to the competitive level of the league. In fact, the front-runner teams in Major and Minor softball are from GI.
NTNLL will be a co-host of the NY District 1 Williamsport Tournament which runs June 23-July 2.