A completely new board has been elected to run the Forest Park Little League.
After serving for seven years as president of the board that runs the Forest Park Little League Dan O’Connor decided it was time for others take on the time consuming task of running the Little League.
Six people were elected to the board from a field of eight candidates in an election held June 25 at the Community Center on Little League trophy night. The new board members elected were Dave Pyan, who led the filed with 54 votes, Terry Watson who received 53 votes, Mark Gordon, 51 votes, Rich Gray, 50 votes, Kathy Doss, 36 votes and Tony Lazzara 32 votes according to Patty Marino, an outgoing going board member.
The two candidates who were not elected were Connie Custardo, who received 24 votes, and Caroline Eibenberger who received 19 votes.
The votes were counted by Randolph Tinder, the superintendent of Forest Park School District 91 and Dave Novak, the executive director of the park district. The new board will take office September 1. After the new board meets they will select officers from among themselves.
Doss, Custardo and Eibenberger were part of a group of softball parents who complained this year about a coach, Bill Kirchner, who was not allowed to coach this year. Critics of Kirchner accused O’Connor of not taking their concerns seriously and felt that the Little League was being run by a small group, two couples. Others defended Kirchner.
O’Connor, however, said the divisive controversy over Kirchner which ultimately led Custardo and some others to demand that O’Connor resign had nothing to do with his decision to step aside.
“It had nothing to do with it, nothing to do with it at all,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor said that a new job in the mortgage business has left him without the necessary time to devote to the unpaid, but time consuming, position of board president over the last few years. He said that he was the longest serving board member in the history of Forest Park Little League, which was established in 1952. He became involved with Forest Park Little League 11 years ago, was elected for the board nine years ago, and has served as president the last 7 years.
O’Connor said for the last couple years he has been trying to quit the position, but couldn’t find anyone willing to take over. Finally, last Christmas he and his fellow board members, his wife Marianne, and vice president Bob Marino and his wife Patty determined that this would be their last year.
“It’s very time consuming,” said Patty Marino. “It’s very hard to do out of two households.”
O’Connor said the current board has been trying to get others involved for the last few years, but has not been able to find others willing to serve on the board until this year.
“There hasn’t been an election for seven years because nobody wanted to run,” said O’Connor.
This year the current board made an aggressive attempt to solicit candidates. They sent letters to all Forest Park Little League parents asking for nominations to the board. Forty two people were nominated, but only eight agreed to run. All the members of the current board were nominated to run again, but they all chose not to run, Patty Marino said.
O’Connor is credited with upgrading the level of play, upgrading the coaching, and making Forest Park more competitive with other suburban Little Leagues. Forest Park Little League was not respected by many other Little Leagues when O’Connor took over, said longtime equipment man George Martin.
“Dan did have a vision of what he thought it could be and it mostly came to fruition,” said Martin. “Dan did great work for this town and this Little League. He put his heart and soul into it. I’ve had my battles with Dan, but when you look at it on my scale the good outweighs the bad significantly.”
O’Connor said that he is most proud of teaching the fundamentals of the game, demanding a greater time commitment from coaches, and upgrading the equipment used by players.
“When I came in the equipment was in bad shape,” said O’Connor. “Kids were going out there with cracked helmets. In two years we replaced all the equipment.”
O’Connor said that he will leave the new board with a healthy balance in the treasury. He said that he is confident that the new board will do a good job and that he, and other current board members, will be willing to offer advice and lend a hand if asked.
“The six people who were elected are very good people,” said O’Connor. “I think they will do a very good job.”
O’Connor admitted to having some mixed feelings as his time as president of the board comes to a close.
“It’s going to sad to leave it because I feel I built a pretty good program.”
Patty Marino said she hopes the new board can build upon the work of the current board.
“There definitely could be some improvements made,” said Marino. “I would love to see someone on this board create a web site. Bring us into the present.”