Center Grove Lassie League President Talks 44 Years of Connecting Youth to Softball
Writer / Matt Keating
Photography Provided by Center Grove Lassie League
Jerry Gebhart, president of the Center Grove Lassie League (CGLL), 110 Morgantown Road, says he has enjoyed watching the successful league grow dramatically over the last 44 years.
“The all-girls softball park and organization was created in 1974, and the property was donated and developed by some local farmers,” Gebhart says. “We started with just a few diamonds. Over the years, they slowly developed more fields, and we currently have 10 (lighted and fully fenced) diamonds, which allows girls to play softball from ages five to 18.”
Gebhart noted that each year they have around 500 local girls play a spring league and a fall league.
“I love having this place where young girls can develop softball skills and friendships with teammates,” Gebhart says. “Center Grove Lassie League has become my passion.”
Gebhart feels the league has stayed so relevant over the years because Center Grove school systems do not offer a softball program until girls reach high school age.
“Softball has exploded, and there are more travel teams than ever,” Gebhart says. “We host travel tourneys on the weekends, and girls come from all over the state and sometimes other states to compete.”
CGLL also hosts a few tourneys each year for the Johnson County Special Olympics and the State Tourney for Special Olympics.
“The sport hasn’t changed a lot, with the exception that girls are now starting to play travel softball at a younger age,” Gebhart says. “Travel softball has become trendy, and a lot of kids want to travel, even if the skill level isn’t at the highest.”
Gebhart added that, “We also have home travel teams that practice at CGLL like the Indy Xplosion travel program.”
Girls who wish to pursue a higher level of competition become the ambassadors of the program, as they represent CGLL at home and also in state and national programs, according to Gebhart.
In the past few years, CGLL, which is non-profit and volunteer-managed, has added some major improvements, such as a paved walking path throughout the park.
“This allows visitors with special needs to navigate easier,” Gebhart says. “We also have scoreboards, lights for all fields, Center Grove red and black paint on all the dugouts.”
There have also been updates to the parking lots and major improvements to the concession stand.
“We would not be able to do a lot of the work without all our generous sponsors,” Gebhart says.
For more information, visit centergrovelassieleague.org.