Playing on fields on Astoria Boulevard in Jackson Heights since 1950 is the Elmjack Little League for kids ages five to 16. There are seven fields used by both a spring and fall league, yet according to coach and board member of the organization, Robert Isea, very few people know about them.
“Not a lot of businesses know we’re there,” Isea said.
Isea, who lives in Forest Hills, played there when he was younger and said it was an amazing experience. However, because the majority of the participation in the league is from low-income neighborhoods, there is very little funding and sponsorships. Isea stressed no one is turned away from the league, which has about 400 kids.
“If you can’t pay, you play anyway,” he said. “Our goal is to increase our sponsorship. We deal with what we have.”
They are in a tough spot, he said. They can’t get assistance from the Parks Department because the Port Authority owns the property. Furthermore, until Isea joined the board this past year, the organization didn’t have a good social media presence.
The fields need lights, a scoreboard, a maintenance crew and new fencing. All of these things would increase the viability of the league, Isea said. The league approached the Port Authority five years ago about installing lights, but they said no because of the planes.
“It’s not in a wealthy neighborhood, so it doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” he said. “We would love to have enough funding to have a proper maintenance crew.”
The spring season begins March 29 and registration dates are Feb. 8, 15 and 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit elmjackll.com.