Who does youth baseball better: Volunteers or employees?

Watch a video about youth baseball volunteers and employees.

Story and multimedia by JORDON CAHOON

Farmington Area Baseball League, also known as FABL, alongside Kaysville City Recreation are two of Utah’s most successfully run Pony Baseball leagues. The two neighboring rival towns have combined to host more district, regional and state tournaments than the next five other leagues combined. But the fact that both leagues are well ran isn’t the surprise, it’s how different they are managed.

FABL is strictly volunteer based, this means all the money from sign-ups to concession stands goes right back into the league. The parents of the children participating in the league are elected into non-paying positions, which makes it even more difficult in these hard economic times.

“Ideally we hold our positions for a term of two years,” John Wendt said, FABL president “Afterwards we step back and let someone else step into the driver’s seat.”

FABL holds their elections after the conclusion of their season in late June every other year, to allow the replacement official the opportunity to look in and watch their predecessor the following year before going in blind. The vice president has two years to watch the president and take notes before taking over.

A former vice president, Gaylen Perry, volunteered from 2000 to 2004.

“It’s a lot of time and work that you are doing for free,” Perry said “I run my own company so getting time off work wasn’t a big deal, but taking time off work in this economy is.”

Kaysville’s league is a city funded league with paid employees given a specific task. Kris Willey, recreation director, along with Recreation Program Coordinator, Josh Godfrey are paid to run what has quickly become a very successful baseball league.

“Having a city budget definitely helps, especially when I don’t have to worry about getting people to work for free,” Willey said “I simply tell the city what I’m going to need and they right me a check to run the league. I’m then able to hire high school kids to keep score and work in the concession stands, which allows me to just oversee the league as a whole from a distance.”

Each league has seen an increase in their overall numbers by about three percent over the past six years. However, when looking into the age divisions, the third to eighth grade numbers are very down.

“The main reason we don’t have as many kids there has a lot to do with competition leagues and money issues,” Godfrey said “parents want their kids to play as much as possible but comp is a better league and it cost too much to do both these days. Plus time is money and doing both is a lot of time.”

Both leagues receive their supplies, uniforms, and equipment, from Academy Sports. They also receive the same Umpire service to officiate their games. The only big difference between the leagues is the fact that one is ran by volunteers and the other by the city.

When asked what the biggest pros or cons to their league as well as opposition’s. Surprisingly, Perry, Godfrey and Willey all gave relatively the same answer, saying it is the personal interest involved.

“Here in Kaysville the people running the league are locked into policy, where they on the other hand have a committee that can change the policies to better the league,” Godfrey said “on the other hand you can have that parental influence that is guided to help just a few kids instead of the whole group.”

Perry agreed.

“I know I was spending anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week down at the fields,” Perry said, “whether it be fixing dugouts or just making sure there were no problems during games, it quickly turns into a full time job, just one you aren’t paid for.”

When asked if he would do it all over again Perry said that he would in a heartbeat, saying that taking the time and money to invest in the league doesn’t just benefit his family, but the community as well.

“Personally I decided to keep my boys playing in Farmington’s league,” Jared Fuller said, a parent living on the boarder of the two towns “I just like the fact that they are doing it for their kids and not as a job, it just seems like they care more about how the league turns out.”