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Thornville diamond to be shared

THORNVILLE – The TYRA and Timberwolves baseball organizations agreed Sept. 15 to compare notes and provide Thornville officials with a schedule of teams and practices so the organizations can share Thornville’s baseball facilities.

Village officials held a special meeting with representatives of both baseball organizations and village government to settle when and how the Thornville baseball facilities would be shared. Following plenty of debate, both baseball organizations agreed to provide the village their schedules for next season by the third Monday in February.

Previously, Thornville Mayor Gavin Renner said the village has agreements with two different baseball organizations for use of the facilities at the village park. The Thornville Youth Recreation Association (TYRA) has been an active partner of the village since the 1970s. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing co-ed youth baseball to the area.

The other group was organized more recently. The Timberwolves is a private travel baseball team made up primarily of players from the Thornville, Glenford, and Millersport areas.

Timberwolves head coach Shawn Gillenwater told village representatives his organization wants to continue to play in Thornville and asked for a two-year contract. “One of the goals of the organization is to strengthen the high school team,” he said, adding that the Timberwolves have brought people from 18 other communities into Thornville since 2013. “We’re actually bringing in revenue for this town,” Gillenwater said. “Obviously, I’d like that to continue.” He said he wasn’t asking the village for more nights to use the baseball field – just Tuesday evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays.

Village council member Heidi Badders said game times, and who was using the field and when became a real conflict last year. “What kind of resolution can the two teams come up with so we can make sure we don’t have this conflict again?”

Gillenwater said he believed it’s only Tuesday nights that have become an issue. “We’re not asking for any more time than last year,” he said. “We’re asking for Tuesday evening.”

“I’m kind of caught off guard a little bit,” said TYRA President Tim Cooperrider. He said he didn’t know how many teams TYRA would have next years so it’s tough to discuss a schedule for next year on the spot. “What’s to say we’re not going to get another three teams?” he said. Cooperrider said between not knowing how many teams would signed up to play and not knowing when a practice may be rained out, it was tough to tell the Timberwolves when TYRA wouldn’t need the Thornville baseball field. “I’m looking out for the Thornville kids,” he said. Cooperrider said when other organizations are trying to take ball time away from the kids, “I feel the position I’m in, I have to be the one to speak up.”

Council member Dale Brussee said it appeared to him that TYRA is leaning toward not wanting the Timberwolves at all. “The more teams you have, the less time you want the Timberwolves at the ball field,” he said.

“No, I’m not saying oust the Timberwolves,” said Cooperrider, adding that he wants more field time for Thornville kids.

Council member Lynne Snider asked why TYRA couldn’t advance its registration time so its teams are organized before April. She said having the schedule worked out earlier would alleviate much of the problem.

Cooperrider said many people don’t know about the sign up time, or sign up later. “How can you say, ‘No, you can’t play baseball this year. You’re eight years old, but your mom didn’t (sign you up) in time?’”

“That’s why there’s a deadline,” Snider said.

“I will not say no to a kid (wanting to play) baseball,” Cooperrider said.

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Snider. She said there are uniform issues and having too many players on a team. “That’s why they have deadlines,” she said. “They’re there for a reason.”

Badders said she believes everyone’s heart is in the right place, but there are kids listening to how the adults are acting. “Let’s keep the focus on what’s important; make sure these kids can play ball,” she said.

Timberwolves coach Brian Winters said the kids on the Timberwolves teams are from the Thornville and Somerset area.

Brussee said he was at the meeting to find out how the organizations can schedule times to use the field and not bicker. “I’m done with who’s from Thornville and who’s not,” he said. “Last year, I saw a whole lot of empty field time.” Brussee said the organizations should agree on a tentative schedule. “We’re not playing traffic cop for scheduling,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t agree to offer the Timberwolves a two-year contract. “I’m not convinced you guys can work together yet.” He said all the kids on the teams are locals and he wasn’t ready to approve any contracts that evening.

Council President Mary Renner said both organizations are beneficial to the community. Parents would be forced to drive their kids long distances for baseball practice if the Timberwolves aren’t associated with Thornville.

Snider said she didn’t want representatives from either team to monopolize any more of Administrator Beth Patrick’s time arguing about who’s using the ball field and when. “She does not referee for anybody,” Snider said. “You guys have to learn to figure it out.

“I want to see both of you guys play,” said Snider. “I love baseball.” She said the village would only offer one-year contracts at this point and the two organizations must agree between themselves on a schedule before any contract is approved. “We’re not fighting here,” she said. “We need to find a solution.”

Representatives from TYRA and the Timberwolves agreed to work together on a schedule that would be presented to the village.

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