Parents and players with South Kitsap Pee Wees turned out in
force Tuesday before the Port Orchard City Council. Members of the
youth football club were anxious about the upcoming renewal of a
Givens Center ball field lease they hold jointly with South Kitsap
Western Little League.
The lease expires at the end of April. The council will discuss
renewal of the joint lease at a work study meeting April 20th.
They’ll vote on the lease April 27.
council on March 9 allowed the Little League club to assume the
South Kitsap Babe Ruth, which folded early in March after 50
years in operation.
According to an e-mail distributed to Pee Wee members and local
media on March 29, some Pee Wees were worried the city intended to
boot them off the field, which they have shared with Babe Ruth for
a number of years.
Cindie Morrill, a Pee Wee parent, in the e-mail urged other
parents, coaches and players to show their support for the football
program. “SK Pee Wees has been informed by the City of Port Orchard
that if the community does not show support for Pee Wees, we may
not be allowed to share with Western Little League as we had done
in the past with Babe Ruth.”
The e-mail was forwarded by another Pee Wee supporter,
email@example.com, with the comment, “Our mayor, Mr (Lary)
Coppola does not like football and does not want to renew the
lease. He wants to change the community play field “TO BASEBALL
ONLY” Someone please help pull this guys head and the city councils
out of their ?”
Apparently it was like that game of telephone we used to play as
kids, where players sit in a circle and whisper a message in the
ear of the person next to them. By the time the message goes full
circle, it’s usually pretty well mangled.
The flames may have been fanned by a dropped
word typo (since corrected online) in a weekly publication’s
article on the shared lease.
What the mayor did say at the March 9 meeting, in his
characteristically blunt style, is that if the two clubs can’t get
along, they’d both lose the lease. The city has had to referee
conflict between Babe Ruth and the Pee Wees in the past, and
Coppola was having none of it from the new arrangement.
“What I told them then and what I’m telling you now is, you will
make this work and you will get along with Pee Wees or you’ll both
be gone,” he told Bob Showers of Western Little League.
The one council member who on March 9 voted against transferring
the lease to Western Little League was Fred Olin, chairman of the
city’s public property committee. Olin at the time said he thought
the two uses were not compatible. But by Tuesday’s meeting, he said
the committee was satisfied that the joint lease would be workable
after all. “We felt we had a resolution worked out pretty well with
Western Little League and Pee Wees,” Olin said. “I don’t see any
On Tuesday, officials from both organizations vowed to cooperate
with each other as they share the field, even though their
respective needs may sometimes conflict. Pee Wees reseeds the field
after their season, for example, but the grass may not be far
enough along to play on by the time Little League holds tryouts in
early spring. All part of the details they’ll have to work out.
“I don’t think you have to worry about us not working together
again. We’re all here for the kids,” said Pee Wees President Chuck
Alas, much ado about nothing.
The Pee Wees’ passion for their program (which includes
basketball and cheer) was clear from comments made by parents and
coaches on Tuesday.
Single parent Dorothy Williams said Pee Wee football was a
godsend to her and her sons, one of whom landed a full-ride
scholarship to play football for Eastern Washington University. “I
don’t know what we would have done without it,” Williams said.
Basketball coach Ron Smith said Pee Wee programs give kids who
may not make the cut on school teams a chance to get in on the
“I think everyone’s missing the point here. This is for the
kids,” Smith said. “I think everyone’s getting lost in this
To which Coppola replied, “I’d like to say I couldn’t agree with