Wyoma Little League, which held its opening day ceremonies Saturday, has always been one of the largest and most successful youth baseball organizations in the city and the region.
Wyoma teams always seem to perform very well in the District 16 tournament and Lynn City Series and just a few years ago one of its 12-year-old softball all-star teams won the state championship and almost made it all the way to the Little League World Series.
But like many youth baseball organizations, Wyoma is experiencing a decline in enrollment, President Chad Wilkins told the Lynn Journal at a fundraiser Sunday at Lady Dog Restaurant.
Wilkins said league officials this season have reduced the number of teams in the Major League Baseball and Softball divisions, going from six to five teams in Major Baseball and four to three teams in Major Softball.
“Our enrollment is down,” said Wilkins, who is beginning his second year as president. “We had 406 players last year and we have 380 players this year.”
The numbers have been declining for the past eight years. Wilkins said Wyoma used to have more than 500 players participating in its baseball and softball divisions.
Why the decline in enrollment?
“It could be the economic times though we never turn away a player if there is an economic issue,” said Wilkins. “And there are so many other sports going on in the spring – lacrosse, soccer, basketball – that now conflict with baseball. Flag football is now a popular sport. So it could be that kids are playing other sports.”
Wyoma is one of five Little League organizations in Lynn. Pine Hill, East Lynn, West Lynn American, and Lynn Shore are also set to begin their 2010 seasons.
“I talk to other league presidents and they tell me it’s a similar situation – enrollment is dropping little by little every year,” said Wilkins.
Wilkins said there was one Wyoma division that experienced a surge in enrollment.
“Minor Softball is the one division that went up in enrollment,” said Wilkins. “That’s a good sign because our softball numbers have been our biggest decline through the years but now we have a big group of younger girls playing softball.”
Wilkins said Wyoma Little League officials remain open to merger talks. In fact, Pine Hill Little League’s one Minor Softball team is playing in the Wyoma Softball division.
“If there were a merger, it would make most sense for Pine Hill and Wyoma to merge, because they’re the closest to us geographically,” said Wilkins. “We’re open to combining organizations – what’s ever best for the kids.”