With Chicago’s two Major League Baseball teams are off to their hottest starts in years, hope hangs high over the North and South Sides. But those aren’t the only parts of the city reveling in promise.
On the West Side, the Garfield Park Little League is entering into summer play in an unprecedented position, said Frank Brim, the league’s executive director.
“I’m looking forward to this year,” he said in a recent interview. “The Park District, the Cubs and the White Sox have all been good to us. There’s no financial pressure to run the organization, anymore.”
Brim said the organization recently obtained funding from the Cubs to subsidize the cost of players who may not afford the registration fees. Brim said the league has used the funds to help any student who attends Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy register — whether that student can afford to or not.
“I want every kid in that school who wants to play to play,” Brim said. “When I pass out flyers for the league, I run into 5- and 6-year-olds who ask me how much it costs. That shouldn’t be their concern.”
Brim noted that he was also excited for the league’s Bases Loaded program, which is experiencing its highest participation levels since it was founded around three years ago.
“We do homework help and mentoring,” Brim said. “We’re becoming as much of a mentoring program as a baseball program. Around 75 to 80 percent of our kids come from households led by single mothers. With the Bases Loaded program, we go to the school, often times prompted by mom, and we check up on them to make sure that they’re doing what they need to be doing.”
Brim pointed out that the program’s success may be starting to take off because more parents are starting to trust the league outside of the baseball diamond.
“One of the first things we ask at practice is, ‘How are your grades?’ This is about more than sports. The parents are starting to get to the point where they’re utilizing us in that way. When the kids see us outside of their schools, they’re reminded that we care about them. They see that we’re all in this thing together, I think that’s why the Based Loaded program has taken off.”
Registration for the Garfield Park Little League is currently being held each Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Homan Square, 3517 W. Arthington. The league’s first games will be held Saturday, April 30. For more information, visit gpleague.org, or call (773) 443-2746.