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A League of Their Own

Trips to the beach, ice cream cones and no school. Those are just some of the wonderful things that come to mind when one thinks about summer.

Yes, I know it may feel like some far away destination now, especially as the snow shovels and rock salt make their first public appearance.  But it will be here in the blink of an eye.

For several Mineola residents, summer has a much more different meaning than in the past and they can’t wait for it to arrive. To Michael Granath, Christopher Orlando, and Robert Maloney, summer means the start of another softball season.

The Mineola/Williston Park Athletic League (MWAL) will throw out its first underhand pitch sometime in June of next year. However, these three young men, along with others involved in the league, have already held meetings, ordered jerseys, and made other changes to what looks to be an even more successful third season.

“There’s a lot of work involved each and every year,” Orlando said. “It’s not like we all show up on the first day of summer and play ball. We are all very organized, something I was a little concerned with in the beginning.”

Originally an occasional pickup game among friends, the MWAL has transformed itself into a 7-team, 91 player league.  Most of the players live in Mineola and have graduated from Mineola High School.

From watching the games, it’s easy to see the Mustang pride that’s instilled in each team. However, some players do come from Herricks, Williston Park and Albertson, making for a good rivalry inside of the league.

Along with normal competitive banter, players will actually sit in the dugout and argue over who had a better high school baseball team.

“It makes for good competition,” Granath said smiling. “We’re all friends and it makes it fun to compete against one another. “   

It’s not all about hitting homeruns and winning games however. The MWAL prides itself on giving back to the community and has done so over its first two inaugural seasons. Last summer, the league raised over $300 for the family of Matthew Hylton after learning about his tragic death in May.

Robert Maloney felt it was just a small way to show their support for a local family in need.  “Most of us went to Mineola High School and we were really touched to hear about his death.  We knew we should do something and through our league, we were able to contribute,” he said.  

The MWAL has also sent teams upstate to compete in charity softball tournaments such as Katelyn’s Kause and Luke and Tori’s Autism Awareness. This season, the MWAL looks to enter even more charity tournaments.

“It’s for a good cause and it allows us to all stick together and do something we love,” Orlando said.  “Everyone wins in the end.”

The MWAL is currently petitioning to obtain town permits, which would allow games to be played at night at Wilson Field next season.

“It will add another new dynamic to our league and it’s something we really hope passes,” Granath said. “We all can’t wait for summer and another season.”

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