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Hewlett-Woodmere Little League plays ball amid pandemic

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Most of the activities and the normal way of life we were familiar with before the coronavirus pandemic have disappeared or retreated to the virtual world of Zoom and other web-based platforms.

Though hit by a by a few pitches — declining interest, decreasing numbers — the 64-year-old Hewlett-Woodmere Little League has continued to play through the health crisis with summer and fall seasons last year and is planning a spring season to open in April.

Its four-member board: President Rachel Weissman, Vice President, Mike Byer, Secretary Ross Lipsky and Treasurer Richard Kahn, along with many of the parents and others who volunteer have bolstered the league that includes several levels of play for boys and girls.

“The summer and fall worked very well, no one got sick,” said Kahn, whose father Burton, now 96, was a league commissioner many years ago. Kahn also played in the league and umpired in the past.

Grapefruit T-ball is the first level pre-K and kindergarten, there is upper Grapefruit kindergarten and first-graders who can hit pitching; minors second- and third-graders the coaches pitch with a harder baseball; intermediate for fourth- and fifth-graders; and the majors for sixth-, seventh- and some eighth-graders. Games are played at the two Nassau County parks in the Five Towns: Grant Park in Hewlett and North Woodmere Park.

Social distancing guidelines were followed, masks were required in the dugout, the umpire stood behind the pitching mound instead of home plate and right behind the catcher, and there was no on-deck batter. No equipment was shared and coaches were equipped with wipes.

In her third year as league president, Weissman became involved when her son Samuel, 15, began playing a decade ago. They have coached together and now Weissman, who has four older children, has two grandchildren playing on league teams.

Running a little league was not easy before the pandemic because of the all the rules that are required to be followed and juggling people’s needs, having to keep people safe from Covid-19 ratchets up the difficulty, Weissman said.

“We have a great board, people that are fabulous and have been involved significantly longer than me and know the ropes,” she said. “The parents and have everyone has really been wonderful and the community rallying in support sponsoring us even during Covid.”

Involved with the league since the 1990s when a daughter played when there was H-W softball league, Byer coached for more than decade and has served on the board for several years. He, Kahn and Weissman all agreed that playing ball was a positive for the children

“Number one it gets kids out of the house,” Byer said, stressing that all the safety procedures recommended by Little League ® International headquartered in Williamsport, Pa., were followed “The kids loved it, they can’t learn enough. They ask a million questions, learn the fundamentals want to understand the rules and its builds camaraderie, competition and good sportsmanship.”

To register a child to play in the Hewlett-Woodmere Little League, go to https://hwlllittleleague.com. The spring season is scheduled to begin in early April.