(4/17) Thurmont Little League kicked off its spring season Saturday with more players, more sponsors and nicer digs.
"The word is getting out that this is the place to be," said Mike Randall, the league's president.
The league has 31 teams and about 350 players this season. Little League players range from 4 to 12 years old, while those in the Babe Ruth League are 13 and older.
Players from 26 teams took to the fields for opening day.
The league has grown the last few years and is now the largest it has ever been, Randall said.
The biggest change since the fall season, though, is the look of the complex on Westview Drive.
As a gift to the league, P.J.'s Roofing Inc. spent the winter renovating all of the outbuildings on the complex, including the main two-story building that houses the snack bar.
The workers replaced all of the buildings' wood siding, painted, put on new roofs and screens and fixed them up with other "odds and ends," said P.J. Nicholson, owner of P.J.'s Roofing.
Nicholson said his company took on the project "just to help out."
"It was the right thing to do," he said.
Nicholson's son, Dylan, 10, has played on the league for five years, and the complex is "where we spend the majority of our time," Nicholson said.
In the past, the company has installed artificial turf in the batting cages, put in new grass and gravel and renovated the dugouts.
Cole Payne, 13, who plays in the Babe Ruth division of the league, said the complex is the place to be in Thurmont, whether you're playing, watching or eating the concession stand food.
"I love being at this field," he said. "I'm here most of the time."
The complex allows the Thurmont league to hold all Little League games in one spot, Randall said.
That was what attracted Jerry Grable, of Emmitsburg.
Grable's son, Brayden, 7, used to play in Emmitsburg Little League, but Grable moved him to Thurmont's league this year, to avoid driving him to different locations for games.
The league is seeing more people join from other parts of the county lately, Randall said. It has players from Thurmont, Sabillasville, Emmitsburg and Libertytown.
Eric Lewis, of Emmitsburg, who used to be on the Thurmont league's board of directors, said he thinks the league is better organized than others in the area, with a bigger talent pool.
"There's better competition," he said.
Cole said even though the league is competitive, it is still fun because the coaches don't take wins and losses too seriously.
"My favorite part is going out, and having fun, and getting dirty," he said.