A more competitive Forsyth County baseball league for the 8-year-old age group is in the works.
The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board recommended a framework for department staff to discuss a modified travel baseball league with local booster clubs.
Chairman Todd Holbrook described the plan as “8U travel but with some guidelines to help not burn out kids, not to overdo kids at 8 years old … and to help the process along.”
In November, parks board members heard travel league debate from parents requesting a change to start at age 8 and from staff wanting to hold steady at 9.
The proposal discussed Tuesday night is considered a compromise between county staff and local booster clubs.
County booster clubs work with the parks for field space and run youth baseball programs. Clubs currently have a recreation league and a travel baseball program, which ramps up the level of competition and the intensity of the practice schedule.
Starting at 9, players are eligible for either recreation or travel. A mid-level alternative called "premier" exists only for 8-year-olds. The plan floated Tuesday would replace premier.
Holbrook said the biggest concern he heard from coaches and parents was the need to form teams in July and allow some play in the fall season.
“We need to have a foundation of what we feel will be beneficial for our rec department, beneficial for the kids that do want to play travel, or not necessarily travel, but get together early to start before that season in the spring,” Holbrook said.
Member Gary Cooper agreed that earlier tryouts could reduce the number of independent and out-of-county travel teams that have been pulling 8-year-old players away from Forsyth and breaking up groups.
“If you don’t start this in July after the all-star season … independent teams will come calling,” Cooper said.
Having an option to try out for a higher level of play in the fall would give families an opportunity to make the decision to stay in Forsyth County at the same time other leagues are forming, he said.
In the spring season, teams would be allowed 40 to 45 games under the proposal while participating in competitive tournaments of their choosing.
Athletic division staff plans to bring the proposal to local booster clubs early next year to work out the details.
The intent is to announce the new league in spring while parents are discussing registration for the season, said Wayne Maddox, athletic division manager.
Hopefully, the final plan will return to the parks and recreation board in February, he said.