2024-06-18 6:28 PM

Falls Church Little League Program Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Since its inception in 1948, the Falls Church Kiwanis Little League program has been an integral part of our local community, and this year the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary. On the morning of Saturday, March 25th, there will be a celebration held at Westgate Elementary School prior to the Kiwanis’ opening day, complete with a parade, food truck, and FCKLL alum Craig Day set to throw out the first pitch.

The Kiwanis are the oldest Little League organization in the state of Virginia, and approximately 20,000 children have been members throughout its history. Currently, about 600 boys and girls between ages 4 and 13 play for various single, double, and triple A-level Kiwani teams, who compete in District 4 – described by FCKLL president Sean Mullin as one of the hardest districts to play in – at the regional and state levels. 

Pictured is Falls Church Little League from 1972. (Photo: courtesy Craig Day)

Like most youth league sports programs, FCKLL is not just about winning on the field. More importantly, it’s a way to help bring the community together, and a way to teach young children life lessons through baseball such as confidence, self-esteem, character, and teamwork. The organization is always looking for ways to improve its experience, too – for instance, this year the schedule has been coordinated so that teams of different age groups will have their games played in succession at the same venues as often as possible. “We want kids to be able to not only play their own games, but also watch their friends play,” said Mullin.

There’s no telling how much the Kiwanis have meant to Falls Church residents for the past three quarters of a century. Take David Quinn, whose mother served on the FCKLL board while he played from 1980-82, and now finds himself as a manager of one of the AAA-level teams, which his son is a player on. “This, to me, is an example of the community Falls Church can be,” Quinn says. “There’s many people who come and go, but others who’ve been here for generations.”

Larry Mendenhall, whose two now grown-up children are both FCKLL alums, credits the league for helping his children find a passion in baseball. “The team gave our sons the opportunity to discover a talent they carried with them for many years, from tee ball all the way through college,” Mendenhall claims. His wife Kathryn, meanwhile, describes Little League as a “tradition” in Falls Church – “The values and spirit of FCKLL exemplify our community… when spring registration opens up, I still feel the excitement.”

Day, a member of the Eastern American Little League championship-winning team in 1972, still holds special memories in his heart for his time with FCKLL. The program was much smaller in his day, with only about a dozen children in his age group, and Day claims that they would frequently spend time together off the field and that he still keeps in touch with several of the connections he made. “It brought people together that didn’t know each other,” Day said via a phone interview last week. “It made Falls Church a more shared community.”

As part of the anniversary festivities, the league will be creating a “digital memory book” in which members and their families of past and present can contribute by posting photos of their experiences. “We want it to be a time capsule, from the beginning until now, where everyone can share their memories together,” says Erika Toman, FCKLL’s Communications and PR leader.

Congratulations to the Falls Church Kiwanis Little League program on 75 years of excellence as one of our community’s most storied pastimes, and here’s to many more.

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