Little League Baseball president wants to start night games
LAHAINA — Greg Vanderlaan is a man who has seen the light in more ways than one.
As the owner and president of UFO Parasail, Vanderlaan has spearheaded the development of the company’s equipment, then organized the business acumen that has led the company to success at the highest levels across the State of Hawaii.
Here in Lahaina, he has established a family and a home, and contributed to the welfare of the community in continuing contributions in sponsorship and leadership of the West Maui Little League Baseball organization.
After coaching with the Red Sox for five years, Vanderlaan has stepped up to the plate to take the leadoff spot in the WMLLB board of directors as president for the second straight year.
And this is where Big Greg has seen the brightest light of all.
“My main concern is that the kids have a fun time, get out and get a little exercise, and learn a little about the game of baseball,” said Vanderlaan last week.
“I want to get the parents more involved and focus on the T-Ball and Coach Pitch levels (ages 5-6 and 7-8, respectively) to develop the coaching programs better, have the coaches learn how to coach at this level and make it fun. I want to try to keep the kids’ interest level in baseball to continue on into their teenage years and beyond.”
The best way to do that is to adjust the schedule, adjust the rules and increase the family fun, he said.
“We feel like we need to change things up a little to make it a more enjoyable experience for the families by shortening the games for T-Ball and Coach Pitch to one hour, and to get everybody out of the broiling Saturday sun and into the cool of Friday night lights.”
This is a most interesting bulb of Vanderlaan’s bright lights. He is planning to move the Major Division (11- and 12-year-olds) contests from Saturday morning and midday to Friday night.
“I’ve seen the kids and their families suffer through those long Saturdays in the merciless sun of Lahaina for years, and I thought there might be a better way to have the entire family have a more enjoyable time. I’ve been researching about getting a lighting system, and I think we’re going to try to rent some lights from a local company for the six weeks of the season at the Lahaina Recreation Center for Field 1, and Field 2 already has lights,” he said.
“We want to see the families come out to enjoy an evening watching their kids play ball, and enjoy themselves with a hot dog or a hamburger from Cool Cat Café and Outback Steakhouse.”
Vanderlaan, who is working with a board of directors made up of Jason Donez, Kim Vanderlaan, Chip Griffin, Mark Tillman and Bob Kawaguchi, reported that over 200 boys and girls have signed up for the 2010 season that begins with Opening Day festivities on April 16 and runs through the third week of May.
“Registration is still available, and we’ll have six T-Ball teams, four Coach Pitch, three Minors, and four Majors Division teams. Our first big event is a baseball clinic with George ‘Manju’ Nitta of Honolulu, who will speak to parents and coaches on Friday, April 2, from 6:30 p.m. at the Lahainaluna High School library. The clinic then moves to Field 1 for the players on Saturday, April 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.”
The title sponsor for the WMLLB 2010 season is Jim Falk Motors, and the division sponsors are Cool Cat Cafe for the Majors Division, UFO Parasail for the Minors, Warren and Annabelle’s for Coach Pitch, and Jim Falk Motors for T-Ball.
Other sponsors for the league include Lahaina Plumbing, The Water Store, Kaanapali Alii, Leilani’s on the Beach, Maui Grown Coffee, Royal Lahaina Resort, Kumulani Chapel, Brown Development, Hula Grill, Whalers Realty, Mala, and Kaanapali Beach Hotel.