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Noon Optimist president frustrated in ending season

Submitted Photo Noon Optimist Little League president Steve Dodson, right, and his son Joshua.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Steve Dodson, Noon Optimist Little League president, never gave up hope of playing this summer, and never gave in. Dodson tried to wait for COVID-19 to get better and hoped New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would ease restrictions and allow little league baseball to play this summer.

On July 9, when Lujan Grisham gave the orders of no mass gatherings, that essentially ended all hope for any season for Noon Optimist, who was trying to have a season even though they could not qualify and play in the Little League World Series. Dodson wanted the kids of Roswell to be able to play a 12-14 game season. He was especially hopeful for the 11-12-year-olds to have one last chance to play.

With the teams not being able to have spectators in the stands, and the players having to wear a mask while playing and temperatures over 100 degrees for the players, Dodson figured that was a lot to ask for little kids. Dodson figured that early August would be the latest the league could play games if the governor gave the OK.

Dodson did not want to continually wait and then still not be able to play. Most of the board members, parents and players were willing to wait and have a season, but when Lujan Grisham came out last week and canceled all sports with fall and summer workouts for high schools, Dodson felt it best to cancel the season for the league.

“I’m extremely frustrated,” Dodson said. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to safely play baseball outside with some spectator restrictions. I don’t see any reason why that couldn’t have gone off.”

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Dodson feels like the league could have started playing games by May 15 and could have completed their season by now. He also noted that states like Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado are all playing baseball right now.

Dodson is ending his two-year presidency of Noon Optimist Little League. He thinks that the league will be in a tight position financially next year because the league did capital projects and had to give COVID refunds.

Noon Optimist is having its annual meeting on July 29 where Dodson is expected to resign. He also doesn’t think there will be baseball come fall.

“Due to the cancellation of the 2020 spring season,” Dodson said, “Noon Optimist Little League (NOLL) is offering parents/guardians the option to receive a partial refund by completing this form. As per our earlier communications, the refund amount will be $40 per player. If your player transferred from another league using the special 2020 COVID-19 waiver, the refund amount will be $35 per player. All refund requests must be received by July 31, 2020.”

Dodson said because the league incurred significant costs in preparation for this season (fields, bleachers, PPE, etc.), and because a large number of refunds will financially strain the league, the default option for all accounts will be to donate the registration cost to NOLL.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, all donations to NOLL are tax-deductible. If you are not requesting a refund, no further action is required on your part. Conversely, to request a refund, please complete this form before July 31, 2020. Once validated, all refunds will be processed in a single batch and the funds returned to the credit card which was originally charged.

“I really appreciated all the people that wanted to keep playing,” Dodson said. “There were so many positive people that wanted to keep waiting and wanting to play. We had 13% ask for refunds. I’m appreciative of the support we, as a league, received. We couldn’t play, we have to follow the state.”

Dodson was looking forward to watching the league play, especially the little T-ballers. As he moves on to the next chapter of his life, Dodson thinks the league will continue and grow stronger. Registrations will begin in December 2020.

“It has been a positive experience in being league president,” Dodson said. “I will miss seeing the kids play and have fun. I will miss seeing them improve and believe in themselves.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.


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