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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Irene plus 1 - Play ball to be heard again

When bases, bleachers, dugouts and roads were carried away from Couples Club Recreation Field in Waitsfield during flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, Mad River Valley Little League lost its playing space.

After the flood, Couples Club member Mike Kingsbury met with Little League organizer Logan Cooke to discuss plans for repairing the field, which was covered in a layer of silt a couple of feet deep.

Although the field had been “an icon and home to many baseball players over the years,” Cooke said, “we were in a tough spot.” He and Kingsbury knew that there wasn’t a lot of time to repair the fields before the upcoming season, but at the same time, “we didn’t want to try to take away volunteer hours from people who had lost so much more than a baseball field,” he said.

Kingsbury decided not to repair the field right away, allowing volunteers to instead focus on helping neighbors get back into their homes and businesses back up and running in the weeks immediately following the flood.

After a couple of months, Couples Club and Little League decided to fix the smallest of their three fields quickly, for immediate use, while they took their time to restore the two larger fields more fully.

“Our goal was to make one field playable by spring,” Mike’s wife Lynne Kingsbury said. With the help of volunteers and donations, the Kingsburys were able to completely excavate and reseed the field, bringing it back up to playing condition. “We’re delighted to see the grass begin to grow,” Lynne said.

At the same time, however, Mad River Valley Little League explored other field options in the area, including using fields at the elementary schools in Warren and Moretown, but both fields needed a lot of work before they could be played on. With the help of more volunteers and donations, the Little League was able to fully restore Brooks Field in Warren, and it’s still working on the field in Moretown.

For the first time in 40 years, Mad River Valley Little League held its opening day last year at Brooks Field in Warren instead of Couples Club Field, but, according to Cooke, the event was still a “huge success.” So now, a year after the flood, Little League has not one but three almost fully restored playing spaces.