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Hancock Little League opens season
February 14, 2018

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They've held tryouts, drafted players and practiced for the last few weeks.

Finally, on Saturday at Kurt Donaldson Park, players and coaches at Hancock Little League opened their season with a parade, an award ceremony and the sound of umpires yelling "Play ball."

Brian Porvaznik, president of the league for 10 years, said registration is down about 30 players from last year, continuing what has been a trend for Little League in general.

"We're at about 185 players. Travel ball is about the only explanation I can think of. It's killing Little League," Porvaznik said. "We need to keep the interest going, and interleague play helps."

Indeed, most of the teams in District 9 take part in interleague play, and even hold a tournament in the spring for top honors in Lee County.

North Fort Myers Babe Ruth, which has travel ball, has increased its enrollment by about the same amount, giving that league a few more players than Hancock. That league also held its opening day ceremonies at the same time.

There will be six minor teams, two in majors, a senior and 50/70 team, and two T-ball teams, Porvaznik said, adding that despite being the smallest league in the district, they always seem to be in the thick of things come All-Star season.

"The senior black team is starting out on the big field and I think they're going to hold their own, and the minors are all developing," Porvaznik said. "Last year, our 9-year-olds made it to the championship and the 50/70s and seniors went to states. For a small league, that's the pride I take out of it. That's a testament to all our coaches."

With the exception for the T-ball teams, Porvaznik said they had no trouble finding coaches for their teams.

The players and coaches took their traditional parade lap around the infield, getting hand slaps from the Island Coast High School baseball team, which came as guests as to serve as umpires for exhibition games against teams from Fort Myers American.

The event also featured an award presentation for Porvaznik in recognition for his 10 years as president, which has seen them become competitive, improve the quality of their fields, and name their park after a longtime coach after years of working.

"You have no idea how hard he worked on that. I like the sound of Kurt Donaldson Park over Kurt Donaldson Memorial Park," Donaldson said.

Porvaznik said he couldn't wait for the season to begin.

"I'm excited for the season. I'm excited for the kids. Thinking back to when I was their age. It was such an exciting time to start the season. Hopefully, they enjoy it," Porvaznik said.

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