By a mark of 15-0 on Tuesday, July 14, Montclair Baseball Club (MBC) board members voted to include township youth softball in its mission.
The not-for-profit MBC is now the Montclair Baseball and Softball Club (MBSC), club officials announced on Wednesday, July 15, during township softball games at Montclair State University.
The synergistic move was made with the hope of better organization and greater awareness for softball, allowing travel teams and in-town leagues to adopt the guidelines of the successful MBC, which was founded 13 years ago.
In addition, four new board members, who are part of a seven-member softball subcommittee, were appointed. The new appointees sit on the subcommittee with three existing members.
"The joining of baseball and softball was a logical move brought up by some of our board members," said Jim O’Brien, president of the MBSC. "There are a lot of overlaps between the two sports with parents and children. Now they will all be part of the same group."
Until last week, the MBSC organized and ran 10 travel teams, three American Legion teams, an in-town league for students in middle school, a T-ball league and its Coach Pitch program for baseball. Approximately 700 children participate in the club each year, according to O’Brien.
The MBSC will now oversee the town’s four travel softball teams. O’Brien said its goal is to bolster the in-town softball league while increasing the number of travel teams and creating softball programs similar to the T-ball and Coach Pitch programs in baseball.
"The MBC has done really well, and this move will be the step we need to take it to the next level as a softball organization in this town," said Teri Festa, who is an assistant coach for her daughter’s travel team and chair of the softball committee. "I’m very appreciative of the Montclair Baseball Club’s graciousness in allowing us to become a part of the club. Softball will now have growth opportunities within the structure of the MBSC."
O’Brien said that the MBC operated on a budget of "a shade over $100,000 last year," noting that "whatever money comes in goes out to field maintenance, umpires and other costs."
"The increased revenue from softball will allow us to improve the experience for all of the children," O’Brien said. "We’ve never turned a player away due to a family’s financial constraints, and that policy will continue."
Joining Festa as new members of the MBSC’s softball subcommittee are Lou Calandra, a U12 travel coach and the director of the Montclair PRCA softball program; Pete Connell, a U10 travel coach and a PRCA coach; and Val Tauriello, assistant coach of the Montclair High School varsity softball team.
Jody Adams, director of the MBSC’s T-ball and Coach Pitch programs; Chris Swenson, founder of the MBC; and Garland Thornton, the PRCA’s youth activities coordinator are the existing board members on the softball subcommittee.
"For all of the strides the sport has made, softball still has a great opportunity to grow in this town," Swenson said. "Because the MBC lived through some of things softball will be going through with growth, it made sense to help them out by becoming the MBSC and doing it together."