America’s favorite pastime in question for one 12-year-old boyGranite Falls Little League votes against waiver BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR Even at an early age, most blue-blooded American boys know they want to experience the camaraderie of team sports, especially baseball, after all, it is deemed American’s favorite pastime.
Unfortunately, for one 12-year-old boy in Granite Falls, his opportunity to play the sport he loves, has been taken away from him because he has moved just 500 yards out of the City.
The Larsons are fourth generation Granite Falls residents and their son has played Little League baseball in Granite Falls since he was five-years-old along with his friends and school mates with his dad Dave, coaching and sponsoring Little League teams throughout the years.
Last year, the Larsons chose to take a year off and in the meantime moved 500 yards out of the city into what is the Marysville Little League district. The Larsons were able to get a waiver from the school district, allowing their son to continue attending Granite Falls schools with his friends; however their request for a waiver from the Granite Falls Little League was denied in a 4-2 anonymous vote by the Board of Directors.
Tony Domish, Granite Falls Police Chief and a first-time Little League coach in Granite Falls is feeling frustrated by everything that is happening with regards to not allowing this boy to play his final year of Little League with his friends.
“This is the first and last year I will be coaching for the Granite Falls Little League,” Domish said.
Domish explained that the teams are chosen on a draft system. When it was his turn to choose a player he was told by Board President, Sam Walker, that he could go out and recruit players since they were in need of a few more boys to fill the teams.
Domish did just that. Not only did he ask the Larsons if their son could play but Dave agreed to help coach the team.
When Domish went to get the waiver signed, Walker and the board decided to have an anonymous vote in which they rejected the waiver even being able to be signed and forwarded to the Little League Organization in San Bernardino, Cal.
John Denke, another coach and parent of three baseball players in Granite Falls, has been an outspoken advocate for this child being able to play.
“Why have I decided to get vocal?” he said, “because I truly believe that every kid matters. I don’t care if he is the worst player or the best player they matter.”
Denke has written several emails to Jim Gerstenslager, Western Regional Director for Little League in San Bernadino.
Gerstenslager replied that they would not overturn a vote by a local board.
“The bottom line is that your local league Board of Directors has voted to not request this waiver and nothing will over-ride that decision,” he writes. “There were indications at the beginning of this that your president was in favor of requesting a waiver but the Board of Directors is the policy makers for the league and the president can only vote in the case of a tie.”
In the past couple of years there have been some problems within the Granite Falls Little League. For instance, a couple of years ago eight All-Star players chose not to play All-Stars with the coach that had been chosen to lead the team. The kids wanted to play with Larson as their coach.
According to sources, this had nothing to do with Larson himself. It was the players who chose to step down.
“Even though “Larson” is not my son, it breaks my heart that he can’t be there,” Denke said. “It’s sick that a few adults, because of personal feelings, let their feelings get in the way of a boy playing baseball with his friends.”
The Journal contacted Board President Sam Walker and was told he had no comment. We were also told by Walker that no Board member would talk to us either.
We have also tried to contact the Larson family but have had no luck reaching them.
“Coaching is so rewarding because you have a chance to make a difference in these children’s lives.” Denke said. “It’s not about coaching a baseball game it’s about teaching values that go beyond baseball fields hard work, dedication, team work, leadership are all outcomes that come from here.”
After being denied the opportunity for a waiver, Denke contacted the Marysville Little League to see if Larson could still play ball there but was informed that their registration is closed for the season and all teams are full.
This leaves one young boy without a place to play the sport he loves.
“You can’t get away from the boyish grins on all of their faces as they see their friends coming to the field,” Denke said. “They run up and greet them and tease each other about the game and the great plays they are going to make … it’s great fun! ‘He’ can’t be part of that. It’s not fair.