WOODBURY – Big changes are happening on the Woodbury youth softball field this spring, starting right at the top.
Woodbury resident Jen Wagner has taken over as Director of Woodbury Baseball & Softball’s softball division.
Wagner played softball at Bates College, and was a coach of her 8-year-old daughter Kate’s U8 team last year.
Tim Pasquariello, the President of Woodbury Baseball & Softball, said the organization is very fortunate to have Wagner in the softball director role.
“Wagner has been instrumental in taking the softball division to a new level.” Pasquariello said. “Her experience and dedication continues to grow and expand the program giving a real viable option for young girls to learn and play softball right here in Woodbury.”
Wagner, who is also the founder of Woodbury’s youth field hockey program, is taking the same grassroots approach to grow softball participation.
Wagner has been talking with friends of her daughter, and her daughter’s friends’ parents, to see if they would like to give softball a try.
And as low-tech as that sounds, it is working. With 20 girls registered to play U8 softball, Woodbury Baseball & Softball has doubled registration at that level this year.
“I feel if you start at the younger level, it’s easier to recruit them to play when they are 7 and 8 years old instead of when they are 11 and 12,” Wagner said. “If they like it then next year they’ll tell their friends and that’s how you get more girls each year. When girls have been playing for years, it’s intimidating for them to join a team like that.”
This season, Woodbury will field two U8 teams and has 10 girls on a U10 team and 10 on a U12 team.
Noting that there are not enough players to have an in-house league, Wagner helped organize a travel league for other towns in the same situation. Woodbury will be one of eight entries in the Western Connecticut Open Softball League. Each team will have a 10-game schedule, and play against teams from Danbury, Newtown, Pomperaug (Southbury and Middlebury), New Milford, New Fairfield, Bethel, Brookfield, Woodbury.
At the same time, the softball division’s field will be moved from Woodbury Middle School to Hollow Park, which will bring all the organization’s leagues together in one place. A storage shed that was put up at Woodbury Baseball & Softball at the middle school will be moved to Hollow Park, and Woodbury Baseball and Softball is installing fencing to protect the players in the dugouts.
Woodbury Baseball & Softball will hold its Opening Day ceremonies at Hollow Park on April 28.