Little League brings HQ to area, Robins played role in decision

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA
The Little League International Board of Directors recently selected Warner Robins as home of the Southeast Region headquarters.

The choice was made in large part because of the local community's overwhelming support of little league baseball and softball, but the location of the base and its ability to provide volunteers was also a factor in the decision.

Master Sgt. Ken Hathaway, a supervisor in the 116th Maintenance Squadron and the president of the Warner Robins American Little League, said there was tremendous community support and leaders from all levels came together to make it happen.

"A lot of volunteers put in a lot of hours to make this happen. We showed to the Little League organization how much we really care about the youth," he said.

Sergeant Hathaway said the board of directors was particularly impressed with the support of Robins Air Force Base and its potential volunteer force.

"It impressed them to know we have so many people here willing to volunteer," Sergeant Hathaway said. "Robins is a big part of the community and to have the support of base leadership was a big plus for us."

He said Col. Warren Berry, 78th Air Base Wing commander, met with Little League representatives during the site evaluation. They were impressed with his enthusiasm towards Little League and of his knowledge of baseball.

"He made a real good impression," the sergeant said. "It was a tremendous benefit to have him there showing support."

Colonel Berry said he was pleased to offer his personal support and the support of the base community.

"Little league is a tremendous organization that helps teach our youth valuable principles such as sportsmanship and teamwork," Colonel Berry said. "Since those are the same qualities we embody as military and civilian representatives of the Air Force, it's a good partnership. Our service-minded individuals will look forward to the numerous volunteer opportunities that will abound."

Colonel Berry said although there is no central tracking for volunteer hours of base employees, he estimates that nearly 3,000 volunteers have given approximately 100,000 hours of service this year alone.

Sergeant Hathaway said having the headquarters here will bring nationwide name recognition.

"This decision will make a really, really positive impact," he said. "We'll have ESPN here every year. Tournaments will bring thousands of people to our city every year. It will help generate revenue for local businesses. I couldn't be more excited."

Initially, Little League International looked at 18 sites for the region headquarters. That original field of 18 cities in six states was narrowed to Morganton, N.C., and Warner Robins in November.

The Southeast Region Headquarters serves as the administrative center for little league activities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The annual Southeast Region Championship game has been televised nationally every year since 1997.

As the site for the new Regional Headquarters is developed in Warner Robins, it will be necessary to play the 2009 regional tournaments at an alternate location. That location, Ceredo-Kenova, W.V., will be used only for one year.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world's largest organized youth sports program, with more than 2.6 million players and 1 million volunteers throughout every U.S. state and 75 other countries.