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Historic little league club in West Tampa embraces next chapter under new leadership

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Posted at 8:06 AM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2023-04-07 07:43:27-04

WEST TAMPA, Fla. — Little league will always be special to Nilses Vera. It's part of her identity, and it's what welcomed her to the United States.

“So, when I actually immigrated to the United States, I was alone, and I was an only child — and I was alone. And I also didn’t speak English," Vera remembered. “I felt accepted 100% for who I was.”

Now, years later, she wants to bring that same warm feeling to kids who play for the historic West Tampa Little League, which is located on N. Jamaica St. near MacFarlane Park in West Tampa.

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Vera is the newly-appointed president.

“I didn’t think I’d take this job, to be honest," she said.

Vera, however, is committed to the new role.

“If I could be a voice for the parents and the children, then that’s my role," she said.

According to Vera, she and a new board took over, suddenly, months ago as the historic little league started a new chapter after years of problems and more recent questions about leadership and the league's direction.

“We realized that there was some serious need for change, and we wanted to impact that change, and the only way to do that was to put in our own time," said Vera.

Vera said she and the board are committed to making transparency and effective communication priorities to help regain public trust and build membership.

Current membership is around 100 kids, which Vera said is down from recent years. The league hopes to double its membership size.

“If the children are happy, we’re happy," Vera said. "If the children are not happy, we’re not happy, and we’ve got to change something.”

Saturday, Mayor Jane Castor will help Vera and others cut the ribbon on the league’s newest field.

“Tampa Parks & Recreation is happy to continue our partnership with the Little League Association at West Tampa Little League and are excited to work with their newly-appointed...Board President, Nilses Vera, to both strengthen the baseball league as well as to ensure a strong post-COVID return to softball to help keep girls in the game," a coordinator for the city's Parks & Recreation Department wrote in a recent statement.

Brian Auld, the President of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Rays' players Brandon Lowe and Tyler Glasnow will be at the ribbon-cutting and participate in a 'Play Ball' clinic, which you can register for here.

For more info about the West Tampa Little League, including how to register for fall or spring ball, visit the league's website at this link.