What is Changing and Why?
Based on feedback and observations from parents and coaches, the NRGS Board has decided to change the divisional eligibility requirements from grade based to age based. Our rationale for this change is the need to better match the skills and relative ages of players within divisions. When combining two class grades into a division, we have always encountered a handful of cases where a girl could be almost 3 years younger than some of her teammates or opponents. This is because school grades do not necessarily have hard cutoff dates. In the past, this seemed to be less of an issue because many of our games were played in-town against other NR teams. As we expanded our program to offer more out of town opponents, we found that this issue was becoming bigger. We were putting the girls at a disadvantage by not following the same guidelines as everyone else. Making this change will allow for better skill matching and eliminate some of the inherent safety issues that wide age differences can create. We will now be in conformity with the ASA/USA Softball (the national governing body of softball) regulations and better aligned with our neighboring towns who were already complying.
ASA/USA eligibility is based upon a player’s age as of December 31st. A player’s age on 12/31 becomes their playing age for the following calendar year. Set dates for each age category will help us to ensure that age differences are at least capped at a 24-month differential (and eliminate the nearly 3-year difference that can occur). (Example: Our U12 division has historically been made up of 5th and 6th grade girls meaning our players could be as young as age 10 when playing in the U12 division. By USA/ASA standards, if a girl is 12 on December 31st and turns 13 on January 1st they would be U12 eligible.) This will impact which division a few of our players are in this year, but overall it will help us to target our developmental goals to appropriate age groups, better align comparable ages and skillsets, become more competitive against the towns we play and ultimately make the sport more fun for our girls. Change is not always easy, but it is necessary, and we truly appreciate your support as we make the changes needed to continue to grow our program and make it an even better experience for our players.
What does this mean for my child?
Registration will open in November and rather than signing up your child based upon grade, you will sign up based upon how old your child will be on December 31st of 2017. It may seem that a few girls will end up playing an extra year within a certain division but remember that all divisions are being realigned based on age, so the divisions will not be the same as they were in years past.
We appreciate your support as we implement this league wide change.