When Cathy Reese was a college catcher at Cornell University, she enjoyed quarterbacking the softball games – coordinating the strategy and keeping everyone on track in the field.
Now, as the new president of Little League, the 15-year Charlestown resident is using those same skills to ‘catch on’ and growing ever-more comfortable in her role as president of the busy Charlestown Little League program. She assumed the job from longtime leaders Al Carrier and Dave and Sharlene Cahill last year in what was a transition year.
“I loved being the catcher and being in charge of the game,” she said during an interview on Monday. “You’re the quarterback of the game and the ball field. I was a good hitter and had a good throwing arm. I’ve always loved softball and baseball, and I’m glad to be involved in the league…Last year it was difficult because it was the first year running it. I was always calling Al or the Cahills for help. This year, I feel like I have a better handle on it…Last year, I took a lot on myself. This year I’m handing some things off to board members.”
In addition to Reese, new board members have assumed roles on the board and Reese has been delegating more to the board and to longtime coaches in the league.
Already, there are some new changes, she said, including online registration and a bumping up of T-ball.
“We’ve brought T-ball completely under our umbrella, as it had been on the fringes of the organization for years,” she said. “Now that’s under the Little League. We’ve seen Rookie ball go from four teams to six this year. It’s great to see that growth.”
Reese got involved with the Little League four years ago, and due to her background in competitive softball, she stepped up to coach her son’s team. It was the first time she coached young kids, but it was rewarding and fun to coach her son, Joe. Her husband, Sean Neilon, is also a coach in the League – making it a complete family affair during baseball season.
Being a veterinarian with a flexible schedule, Reese said it leaves her time to take on her second job as league president, a time commitment that few realize takes as much time as it does.
“We run the concession stand, too, and last weekend one of the workers couldn’t make it, so I was there all weekend,” she said.
And that’s what it takes to run the league, which for so many years was under the purview of Carrier and the Cahills. With their kids long out of Little League, both said they felt it was time to turn over the baton after so many years. In Reese, they found a willing partner.
She said she hopes to be able to lead the league for some time but does hope to be able to pass the baton on when her son ages out of Little League. She said it’s important for the League to have fresh ideas, and while her ideas are new right now, there will always be room for newer ideas in the future.
“Turnover is good, and you always need fresh ideas,” she said. “I’m trying to keep good notes of how things have progressed so the next person isn’t starting from scratch. One thing I didn’t know was how much time it would take, but now in my second year, I’m really happy to be so involved in Little League.”
Little League consists of T-Ball (ages 4-6); Rookie Ball (ages 5-7); Minor Leagues (ages 7-9); and Major Leagues (ages 10-12). The senior division has been phased out now in favor of the new Babe Ruth League being run by Kevin Kelly for ages 13-15 and 16-18.
She said there is always a need for coaches and volunteers to help out. One need not know a great deal about baseball, she said, to help the kids learn and play the game.