Back for another year as the president of the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), Jeffrey Walcott is excited about what is store for the 2019/20 season, the vast influx of new and returning players, and how they can build on what they put in place a year ago.
JBLN is set for a 31st season of organized youth baseball this year. A girls softball component was added this past decade, and now, there are almost 500 young boys and girls competing in youth baseball and softball games out by the JBLN Field of Dreams Complex at St. Andrew’s School.
A total of 466 young boys and girls are registered on 36 teams in seven divisions (age groups) this season. Also, there are a number of players on the wait list in each division. The league held its draft, tryouts and player selections two Saturdays ago, and now teams are coming together, staging practices and gearing up for the new season which starts earlier than usual this year.
A shortened preseason starts as early as October 30, in some divisions, and the regular season gets underway November 20. All of the divisions have an increased number of games this year.
“What happened is that there have been a lot of coaches asking for an extended season so we decided to accommodate them and have more games this year. We will start on November 20 and go all the way to May 3, 2020,” said Walcott. “We’re looking forward to another exciting year. It starts pretty early and we know that will not sit well with everyone, but for the most part we believe that will be well-received. We have 466 players on 36 teams, 57 coaches and 118 umpires. Every year, registration has been maxed out and this year has been the same. The players, coaches and parents are very excited. On any given day, you can see that everyone is getting involved and getting ready for the start of the season which we expect to create a bit more excitement this year because of the extended schedule.”
Also, the league has opened its doors to affected players from the Northern Bahamas. Those who have been displaced, and are now living in New Providence due to the damage caused to Grand Bahama and Abaco from the passing of Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September, were permitted free registration for the 2019/20 season.
“Our hearts go out to them,” said Walcott. “They are our brothers and sisters from the north and we are so glad to have them as a part of the JBLN family. We decided to give every player from those affected islands free registration. That is just one of the many things that we intend to do here at JBLN this season as it relates to assisting our brothers and sisters from the north.”
The league will stage a soft opening next month, for the first time having regular season contests before Christmas, and the official grand opening of the new season is set for Saturday, January 18, 2020. The season will climax with playoff and championship games in May, and then it’s on to the awards ceremony, the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships and summer tournaments for various divisions.
“We’re very excited with that,” said Walcott. “The preseason will run for about three weeks and then it’s on to the regular season on November 20. This is the first time that there will be regular season games before Christmas and that in itself will add another dimension to league play this year.”
The Green Parrot Bears had an undefeated season and are the defending champions in the Tee Ball (six-and-under – 6U) Division, the Super Value Rays are the defending champions in the Coach Pitch (eight-and-under – 8U) Division, the John Bull Astros are the two-time defending champions in the Minor (10-and-under – 10U) Division, the Solomon’s Athletics reigned supreme a year ago in the Major (12-and-under – 12U) Division, the Scotiabank Phillies are the two-time defending champions in the Junior (14-and-under – 14U) Division, the Multi Discount Brewers are the defending champions in the Senior (15-and-over – 15O) Division, and the Dairy Queen Distributors ended the 2019 season unbeaten in girls softball (15-and-over – 15O) and are the defending champions.
Walcott has been an active member and coach in JBLN for a decade, and this is his second year as president of the organization. JBLN is the oldest organization in youth baseball having started in 1989 with 30-plus players, and now with an enrollment of almost 500.
The league is encouraging all registered players to pay all outstanding debts before the start of the season in November.