Davenport Gladiators youth baseball

The Davenport Gladiators recently placed second in a weekend tournament.

DAVENPORT — The love of America’s pastime is alive and well for two Davenport youth baseball travel teams.

And Bryan McGinness — a parent, coach and president of the teams’ board of directors — wants the community to know that the teams exist.

“First and foremost, we want everyone to know that there is youth baseball in Davenport,” McGinness said. “The other part we want people to know about is the wonderful community involvement and help from local businesses that we have received.”

There are two Davenport Gladiator teams: 9U (ages 9-and-under) and 10U (ages 10-and-under).

“We are looking for boys and girls who wanna play baseball,” he said.

The teams started practicing in August and are still looking for players as tournaments begin mid-month.

“We don’t hold official try-outs, but invite kids to come out and practice with the teams,” he said. “If you like it, talk to us. We have found that this way, there’s less pressure on the kids feeling the need to be perfect.”

To help alleviate some of the expense of travel baseball, the board members have worked hard to gain financial support from the community and local businesses.

“The response from businesses has been incredibly positive,” said Ashley Chenoweth, the board secretary. “Others have responded that once they get back to business as usual, they will sponsor the team, as well.”

According to McGuinness and Chenoweth, there is a positive feeling with everyone involved: from the community, local businesses, parents and the players, who are also friends off the field.

“It’s a family-atmosphere that carries off the field,” McGuinness said. “We might have a cookout or potluck after practices. It’s a great environment and a close-knit group of kids.”

McGuinness said the team practices safety measures required by the Center for Disease Control and local agencies regarding COVID-19.

“We don’t share equipment, the boys maintain social distancing, they wear masks when they can,” he said.

Additionally, to have enough room for the teams to social distance, rows of chairs have been added directly behind the dugouts. COVID-19 waivers must be signed to participate in tournaments. Spectators must watch the games from behind the outfield fences.

Practices are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. at Lewis Mathews Complex, located at 400 Palm Street in Davenport.

“At the end of the day, the important thing is that the kids are having fun,” McGuiness said. “We are excited to see where the season takes us.”

The teams sponsors include: Mixed Technologies, Davenport Diner, El Zocalo Supermarket, Luxury Edition Travel, Mossy Fence, Fence Central, CiCi's Pizza Posner, Manny's ChopHouse, Subway - Deer Creek and Shannon Orthodontics.

The team is on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2ReJKfL.