Youth sports seem to get more competitive and more intense with every passing year. George Russell and the leadership team at Warwick’s St. Gregory the Great baseball and softball league have an idea to help young athletes – and their families – play something a little different.
St. Greg’s will introduce a ragball league this spring, to go along with its long-running youth baseball and softball programs. Ragball is essentially softball played with a much softer ball, which makes it safe and fun for players of all ages. The league is encouraging families to participate together, and eight teams have already signed up. Registration continues Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at St. Greg’s.
“I don’t know of any other activity where you can have mom, dad, two kids teaming up with their neighbors and their kids, putting on a uniform and going out and playing a game,” said Russell, the president of St. Greg’s baseball and softball. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for people.”
Ragball tournaments have become common in recent years, with several Little Leagues in Warwick putting events together, often for charity. It was at one such event last year – Warwick National’s charity tournament for a former coach who had passed away – that the crew at St. Greg’s got the idea for putting together more than a single tournament.
“We got a team together for that tournament, and we had a blast,” Russell said. “It was a great weekend. When you get parents and kids on the same field, having fun, competing against each other, it’s pretty unique. A lot of people said, ‘You know, we should do this more often.’”
Russell felt St. Greg’s was a perfect fit. The baseball and softball leagues are competitive, but there’s an emphasis on fun and sportsmanship.
“Our pastor, Father Ricci, always says, ‘The sport is important, but it’s not the primary reason we’re down here playing the games,’” Russell said.
The ragball league figures to have a similar spirit. There will be no umpires and the team effort of kids and parents should keep things light.
Russell hopes it takes off and expands to other leagues and parishes around the city. For now, the focus is on the division for families, but he’d also like to see a division for high-school kids.
“For kids who are past the youth leagues, they don’t really have an outlet for just coming out and having fun,” Russell said.
Games this spring will be played on Saturdays and Sundays at St. Greg’s. For more information, contact George Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org.