Iola’s Recreation Department has recently reached out to its counterpart in Chanute for preliminary talks about combining the communities’ baseball and softball leagues next summer.
“We were touching base with Chanute about playing games with them so that we could provide the Iola kids more games,” Recreation director Jason Bauer said. “We went up there to set up guidelines, what we would use, to see if we could even be on the same page.”
Some of the rule changes Chanute wants Iola to utilize are for the boys age 9-12 in baseball to throw from the mound.
For girls ages 9-12 in softball, Chanute favored allowing players to steal when the ball leaves a pitcher’s hand.
“Chanute adopted all the other rules we currently have,” Bauer said. “Those were the two changes they’d like to see us make. I told them everything had to be the same across the board.”
Bauer also said they’d like to limit the age groups to 9-10 year-olds and 11-12 year-olds for baseball and softball.
Currently, the leagues in Iola begin at age 4.
The department is looking at adding Babe Ruth baseball and softball for ages 13-15.
Bauer said Humboldt would be invited into the league as well.
“On average, we’d have eight to nine teams per league and would try to get as many games as we could,” Bauer said.
Bauer stressed nothing was official and the departments are only in the preliminary stages.
Bauer said the department would send surveys to get parents’ opinions about the potential switch.
The timetable would be as early as next summer.
RYAN LATTA started his new job as the assistant recreation department director July 29.
“I’ve worked under the recreation department for the past five summers doing ball field maintenance,” Latta said.
Latta said his new job has much more responsibility. .
“I have to set up rules for the rec leagues, baseball and football, stuff like that,” Latta said. “I still take care of the fields, go out and get sponsors and other things along those lines.”
Bauer said Latta is learning quickly while on the job.
“There’s a lot to learn because we’re a small department,” Bauer said. “We have a lot on our plate and it’s either sink or swim.”
The duo have been busy recently preparing for an upcoming City Council meeting.
“We’re trying to change some things, such as the operation hours of the pool,” Bauer said. “We’re going to the council meeting on Monday and that will be one of our first things that we tried to accomplish together, we’ll see how it goes.”
Latta believes this is the perfect situation for him.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back in Iola, all of my family is here,” Latta said. “It’s a good deal, it’s a good experience for me and it’s a good situation to be in.”