For the first time in at least eight years, the Winter Garden Little League was selected this year to host the 8-10 State Tournament, which took place from Friday, July 7, to Sunday, July 9.
“We are really excited to host a tournament this big, with eight teams coming from all around Florida,” WGLL President James Mooney said. “So, not only is good for our league — because we get to showcase our fields a little — but with the community around, I think the teams that are coming in have a lot of restaurants and different places to go in between games, during games. I think it’s quite a big deal for Winter Garden.”
The opportunity to host the tournament came at a great time for WGLL; the league currently is implementing changes to its leadership and is working on renovating all its fields.
“We’ve got a lot of plans upcoming in terms of continuing fields renovations and improving the facilities, and one of the biggest sources (to do that) is through sponsorships and concession stands,” Board of Directors member Rick Tischler said.
With an expected audience of more than 1,000 people to fill the fields during the weekend — including players, coaches and family members — the WGLL was excited to provide hungry visitors with an assortment of new concession stand goodies such as burgers and frozen lemonade.
“We are having over 240 different families coming into this tournament,” WGLL Vice President Kyle Flanigan said. “We (have) a lot of volunteers. … We’ve actually been very fortunate this year as a league, because even former board members who are parents now have stepped up into running our concessions sands or painting the fields.”
All proceeds from the concession stand will go directly into the league and the ongoing projects.
“We turfed Field 1, we were able to pay for that as a league,” Flanigan said. “We worked with the city of Winter Garden, and although the plan is to have all three small fields done, the league was going to pay for one and the city was going to pay for two.”
During the season, Field 1 served as a test run, which passed with flying colors, as to whether the other two fields would need to be turfed.
“Not one single game was rained out on that field; we were able to actually play a full season and be done in time,” Flanigan said. “The city was very impressed with everything that we did — the re-mulching and how the field has held up, how we just can be clean, follow the rules. And they are looking at now doing the infields on the two other fields and the big junior/senior field by the end of our fall season, going into our spring season next year.”
The tournament served also as a great opportunity for the WGLL to get back on the map.
“Winter Garden Little League is one of the oldest leagues around,” Tischler said. “And, by being chosen to host a state tournament like this, it really gives us a lot more notoriety now.”
Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.