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West Roxbury Parkway Little League rebounds after controversy

Posted by boston.com  October 16, 2013 05:16 PM

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Courtesy of Parkway Little League

A worker hangs a Parkway Little League banner for the summer 2013 championships, hosted by the league.

Three years ago, it seemed as if West Roxbury’s Parkway Little League was headed for a strikeout.

The 2010 season was marked by strife between parents and board members, disputes within the board, and a lack of rules’ enforcement -- which ultimately threatened to strip the league of its charter renewal unless the problems were solved. The most controversial actions of the season involved managers attempting to stack minor-league teams with major-league-level players.

But since then, league officials have worked closely with district administrators and the Little League Eastern Region directors to correct those problems and restore Parkway’s reputation, league overseers say. With this year’s tryouts recently drawing more than 90 players, and the successful oversight of this summer’s state championships behind it, Parkway has bounced back, Little League administrators say.

“The Board of Directors over the past three years has done a remarkable job in running a transparent and healthy league,” said Patrick Holden, assistant director of Little League’s Eastern Region, which oversees Parkway. “Parkway has maintained very good status with us, and the charter has not been in jeopardy at all in the past three years.”

The league’s rebound is due in large part to improved communication between a reconfigured Parkway board and Ellen Lipoma, Massachusetts District 10 Little League administrator, said Holden. Typically, when parents have concerns about league issues, they speak to the coaches and also to the 17-member board. But in 2010, Lipoma said, the board provided no guidance, which led to parents complaining to the district administrator.

Lipoma worked closely with the board to address the disconnect, stressing the need for better communication between parents and board members. A major fix involved decreasing the size of the board from 31 to 17 members, in an effort to aid more open communication. New board members replaced some of the members who had been involved for decades and were resistant to change, according to Lipoma.

“Just because you’ve been doing things for 50 years, doesn’t mean you’re doing it right,” she said.

Joe Castellano, president of the Parkway league, described a complete turnaround in the relationships between members of the board, and between board members and other parents.

“I don’t see any negativity or frustration,” he said. “Everyone works together now in a positive way. Any minor problems that may arise are dealt with and handled professionally now.”

Lipoma said she has confidence in the new board.

“They’re one of my premier leagues now, and I know they’re going to contact me before things get out of hand,” she said. “And they’re all open to changes now.”

Some coaches and parents also said they were pleased with the league’s leadership.

Rocky Anzalone, a father of five who has coached for Parkway for eight years, said the league’s leaders have done “an awesome job starting to get the buzz back in the area for Parkway. [The league] has been brought back to its roots.”

Castellano said Parkway’s successful organization of this year’s championship games was “really important for us. The state league was really impressed with how we ran it, and it’s good to get feedback from outside towns and administrators, as well.”

With the leadership in place, Castellano said, the focus has turned to the players.

“We just really want [the kids] to have a great experience,” he said. “(We’ll) work hard to make this happen.”

This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.

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