Established in 1940, the Protestant Church Athletic Association (PCAA) was created by Al Locke and Ken MacCuish, a basketball program alongside the softball program to, “espouse the virtues of character, courage, and loyalty,” explains Commissioner/Treasurer Steve Butland from the Church Softball League. Butland elaborates on the Church Softball League’s humble beginnings, saying that it had started out as a “joint effort by 5-6 churches” (the Centre Methodist and Maplewood Baptist churches being the main contributors), in an effort to encourage kids to not only go to Sunday school, but to “add another depth to these religious actions”. Nonetheless, they’re open for children of all religious affiliations.
In the mid ‘70s, the league had a meager number of seven teams. However, the number of teams on the league has doubled in numbers, with a team or two on the waiting list. The Church Softball League is a big league that currently has fourteen teams, and each team has from twelve to twenty members. Unlike regular high school softball teams, the Church Softball League has members that are above the average high school age limits, meaning that young adults are able to join and participate in the teams as well. Their season starts on the first Monday of May all the way to end of August, and their games take place at the two softball fields-the Hunting Field and the Ippolito Field-Linden STEAM Academy.
Between those four months, the Church Softball League’s teams are constantly hard at work. They usually play doubleheaders on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6 to 10 pm every week, and after the 4th of July week they play doubleheaders on Wednesday evenings as well. Their playoffs start on the second week of August with three rounds of playoffs that week. In Butland’s opinion, the league’s teams’ biggest accomplishments for this year was “having the family and friends coming down to a beautiful park and cheering on their family member or friend”, as well as the children “making full use of the park facilities,” referring to Linden’s renovated playground.
Their expectations for this year has been to “eliminate trash-talking,” Butland says, adding that the League is working on, “to stand behind their own players,” which is understandable since a lot of teams face this problem as well. Besides weather problems, Butland says that the league has struggled with players that have other “commitments to school, work, extracurricular activities, [and] family commitments,” this past year. On a more positive note, Butland believes that the most important attributes to the league are, “sportsmanship, competition, and commitment,” and it seems that the league is moving along on the right track.