Staff Photo / Neel Madhavan Ohio Little League District 2 Administrator Dr. Chet Cooper presents the Volunteer Hero Award to Campbell Little League President Jeremy Bigley Monday night during the District 2 Tournament Championship games Monday night at the Field of Dreams in Boardman.

Over the past 5-10 years, Little League Campbell had fallen from where it once was.

League attendance figures declined significantly, and league fields were a far cry from what they were when Campbell was Mahoning Valley’s first chartered little league program in the 1950s, when the little league nationwide was still in its infancy.

So, as a former Little League participant himself, Jeremy Bigley decided to get involved. He volunteered his time and eventually assumed the role of president of the Campbell Little League.

The work Bigley has done over the past year to help restore Campbell Little League to its former glory earned him a nomination for the Ohio Little League District 2 Volunteer Hero Award. Among a group of other nominees from other local Little League programs, Bigley was then selected and received the award in recognition of his efforts Monday night during the District 2 Tournament Championship games at the Field of Dreams in Boardman. .

“One person can’t do it” said Bigley. “It’s for me, the five people, the city officials and everyone who helped. I guess I was the face of it and the one who was seen and went to the meetings, but without the 10 people around me, it does not happen. It takes a whole community for this price.

District 2 Administrator Chet Cooper, who presented Bigley with the award, noted how getting more kids involved and participating in Little League benefits not only the kids, but the community as well.

“Jeremy was thrown into the fire and he’s done all the hard work and he’s (Campbell) ready to come back and be in barn burners next year,” said Cooper. “We hope to bring more kids into Little League and Jeremy has already taken the leap. We look forward to working with Jeremy and helping him further promote the league and involve more kids so they can be successful.

But it hasn’t been an easy process for Bigley.

He was coaching his son’s T-ball team last year when he noticed the grounds at Campbell’s Roosevelt Park weren’t in great shape. So he volunteered and started calling Campbell’s Little League Chapter asking what he could do and how he could help.

The first step was to put together a committee and try to find people and coaches who would be interested in working with the organization.

“We started meeting in December, trying to find a way to get out on social media and get more kids to sign up, because we were only averaging around 75-80 kids (per year)”, said Bigley. “Then this year we ended up enrolling 130 kids.”

Shortly after, the president of the Campbell Little League resigned, and people in the community suggested that Bigley take on the role.

After taking office, Bigley began contacting city officials, particularly Campbell Mayor Brian Tedesco, who also has a Little League background. Tedesco was the president of the Campbell Little League when Bigley played as a kid.

“We worked closely with the city” said Bigley. “They started seeing me there (in Roosevelt Park), so they wanted to be there too. (Tedesco) has been there with us all the time, working in the fields and supporting us.

As more and more people got involved, they started to brainstorm ideas and the work began. Bigley said they re-roofed the dugouts, painted the dugout and tried to make the fields more presentable. They also reopened the concession stands, which had not been open for several years.

“We had a rainy spring, so getting the pitches ready for the kids to keep playing regularly and coming back was a big thing,” said Bigley. “We are seeing more and more support from parents and more and more people are coming to the park.”

Even with the work Bigley has done so far, these are just the first steps. There is still a long way to go and still work to do. Cosmetic changes and keeping the fields in good shape are a start, but in the end, turnout numbers are the most important thing.

Despite up to 130 kids participating this spring and summer, they still didn’t have enough to field 11- and 12-year-old boys’ teams or 11- and 12-year-old girls’ teams. This hurts the league, according to Bigley, because the few kids of those ages who sign up, the league has to call and find other leagues nearby in other communities that they can join, and then those kids stay there. and play for those teams instead. to return to Campbell.

“I would be happy if we could fill and field all of our teams aged 4-14, that would be the goal,” said Bigley. “We started with fixing things and getting the kids excited to be there, but now it’s about getting the numbers, so we can create more excitement around our league. People are walking in the park and seeing the kids there, wanting to see their kids doing the same thing. This is for parents to get their children out and register. Then it’s definitely up to us coaches to create a little more excitement.

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