[UPDATE: Late Sunday, District Administrator Tamara Alexander wrote to say “I am happy to announce that the charter suspension will be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Monday March 17, 2014, pursuant to the league directors taking the necessary steps required to return and remain compliant with the program’s guidelines.”]
NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — On any given Sunday, the baseball fields at Bonita Canyon Sports Park in Newport Beach are filled with little league players,
But this Sunday, the fields were noticeably empty.
The Newport Beach Little League program has been suspended. Even team practices have been forbidden.
CBS’s Jeff Nguyen reports that some of the players, like 10-year-old Ryan Svendsen, have had to temporarily put their dreams of playing in the majors on hold.
The suspension was announced late last week by the District Administrator of the Little League Western Regional division, just days after the league’s opening day festivities
At issue — a little league rule in which managers and coaches cannot make up 50 percent or more of a league’s board.
To help straighten things out – a couple of coaches resigned from their positions on the board.
Despite complying, the suspension stands.
“Apparently, nothing has come of it,” said Frank DiFerdinado, a coach. “We’re not back on the field today. I’ve had no indication we’ll be back anytime soon.”
Ryan’s mother, Kate Svendsen, is also a board member.
“I feel like we have done everything that’s been asked of us and then some,” she said. “I feel like this is an unjust loss for us.”
What makes the suspension so tough to take is that Opening Day was just last weekend.
The season was being dedicated to 9-year-old Julian Dunn, a former little leaguer who recently lost his battle with brain cancer.
And to the parents, it’s more than just a game.
Two of the teams in the league of 700 children, for example, are made up of kids with special needs.
“In fact every home game, two of our teams are buddies to each of those players. So they really get an appreciation for the the challenges that these kids have,” says Gary Borquez, president of the Newport Beach Little League.
Ryan speaks for many of the kids when he said news of the suspension was devastating. He’s not just missing the baseball, he’s missing the camaraderie of his friends.
“It was really upsetting because once my mom came home and told me that the league has been suspended, I was really bummed. I’d go upstairs in my room and just sit down and be like really bummed,” he said.
Nguyen said he reached out for comment from the district administration but received “no response.”