AU SABLE FORKS - Efforts are under way here to bring back an old tradition of summer recreation.
A committee of Au Sable Forks residents has formed with the intent of re-instituting a fastpitch softball league, and the group is already well on their way to reaching that goal. Chad Garcia is the committee's vice president.
"There was a league here for 40 or 50 years, and then it folded 10 years ago," said Garcia. "Everybody's talked about it for years since the league went under."
All that talk eventually turned into action, however, when Forks native Adam Coolidge brought some fellow fastpitch veterans together in January to work out a plan for the new league, complete with rules and a schedule.
"We've had a lot of help from the Au Sable Forks Fastpitch Tournament Committee," said Garcia, noting how the organization generously granted use of Billy Mitchell Memorial Field, where it hosts fastpitch teams from across the Northeast in a weekend-long tournament each summer.
The new league, in contrast, will feature strictly locally-organized teams in a 12-to-15 game schedule throughout June and July. Teams must contribute a sponsorship fee to enter the league, which is paid through a combination of business sponsorships and player fees.
"The players get a membership card, and the sponsors get a banner that will hang on the fence during the games," Garcia explained.
Rules for the games will mirror those of the annual tournament, with the exception that a 10th batter will be added to the lineup to encourage more participation. The league is open to anyone, men or women, ages 16 and up.
"In the past, women have played in the league; women have pitched in the league," Garcia said.
Regular season games are tentatively scheduled to begin June 2. Admission to the games will be free.
"It's always given the people in town something to do on summer nights," said Garcia. "Fastpitch softball is a lot of fun to watch."
If the league proves to be financially successful, it will likely turn its attention to charitable fundraising, Garcia said. One idea currently being floated is to fund a scholarship for local high school baseball and softball athletes.
Garcia said sponsors have tentatively committed to four separate teams in the league, and the committee hopes to add more before their May 5 entry deadline.
Until then, the committee has decided to regularly hold open field beginning April 10, weather permitting.
"It's a good time for pitchers to throw batting practice, and it's good for anybody looking for a team," Garcia said.
For more information about the Au Sable Forks Fastpitch League, including how to join or start a team, contact Adam Coolidge at 534-0061 or Chad Garcia at 578-8181.