A League of Their Own: New Rec Softball League Forming in Toms River
A group of parents and coaches from the Toms River Girls Softball League have decided to form their own league and created the Toms River Girls Recreation Softball League. Vin Ribaudo, president of the new Toms River Softball Recreation League feels Toms River girls need a league that will cater to everyone at all play levels and offer a fair and fun experience to all members. “There was a time when the program had about 1,000 girls participating, but now we’ve been told numbers are lower.” Ribaudo said “A lot of girls got discouraged in the other league because some teams were full of travel kids and they just beat up on the other girls. Eventually, doing that, you lose girls because nobody wants to go out and lose every game. In our league, we want to keep an even playing field for all the kids. We want to keep the league fun and instructional.”
Over the years, as program numbers dwindled in the existing league, parents and coaches in the new league cited several underlying issues as factors in their decision to leave and for the lower than anticipated enrollment figures in recent years.
The old league, which is affiliated with a travel softball team recently reported to the township, the program had 800 girls participating. Ribaudo claims that number may not be as high as the league claims. The road has been a bit rocky for Ribaudo and the new recreation league, but he says progress is moving full steam ahead. “We’re going forward with this. It’s not about the other league, it’s about building a recreational and instructional league for girls.” he said “We want to make sure the girls in both leagues have options and opportunities. We’re not going to try to pull anyone here, but just put out our goals and see what happens.” Toms River currently supports two boys baseball leagues and Ribaudo said there’s no reason why two girls leagues cannot co-exist.
Before Ribaudo and his league can get off the ground for their inaugural summer season, some hurdles have to be overcome.
The league needs to compete with other community groups, including the Toms River Girls Softball League for field permits. Ribaudo says he has met with township officials and they have said as long as the league is formed, has registrations and has their insurance and legal documents in order, they will have fair access to existing fields and the new five field recreational and softball facility on North Bay Avenue.
“We’re going to make sure all local groups have access to these new fields and they are not just there for the Toms River Girls Softball League.” said Eric Schubiger, Director of the Toms River Recreation Department. “This complex is open to any organization in town provided they have insurance and file for a permit. We are going to make sure anyone who wants to use these fields has the chance to use them.” Schubiger also reminded the public that the new complex is not just for softball, but also has a walking track, open space and sports themed playground. “This complex is for the entire town to enjoy and use.” he added.
In past years, leagues would get blanket permits that prevented access to township fields. On many occasions, the fields would go unused when the permit holder overbooked fields and other groups did not have permission to use the fields. Schubiger said with the attention the new complex has been getting, his team will be monitoring those activities this year. The complex is scheduled to open this spring.
As for Ribaudo and his new league, he says they will soon be accepting registrations for a summer season and will offer fall ball and challenger programs. The Toms River Girls Softball League was reached for comment on this article, but did not return our calls before our deadline.
To learn more about the new league, you can visit their website