Dedicated volunteers keep a Pioneer City tradition alive
Think about your Little League baseball experience as a youngster, a parent, a fan.
What is one of the most traditional aspects of the Little League experience and one of most vital to the Little League itself?
Answer: The concession stand!
As a childhood participant of Little League, think about the times, you arrived at a game. Your initial destination was the concession stand for that bubble gum or in later years the gum product, packaged as Big League chew, or sunflower seeds, candy.
Or, you needed a drink to quench your thirst during the game or you devoured the long-time concession stand staples, a hot dog, hamburger, fries or a slice of pizza.
That experience and those four basic foods are still readily available for consumption.
Times have changed as concession stands have expanded the menu but one instant remains — the concession stand is a financial lifeline to Little League groups.
At the Carbondale Little League, Nicole Rosar and Michelle Taylor form a dynamic duo all season long.
“I have been a part of the Little League experience since I was a kid,” noted Nicole. As a kid, I grew up here, I’d tag along with my dad (Rich Mroczka) since he was a coach for my brother’s team for a number of years. Our family spent many nights here at the games and at the concession stand.”
After the season started, the league needed someone to assume the day-to-day operations of the concession stand.
That responsibility is no easy task.
Decades ago, league coaches and parents divided time in the venue with each team taking a week of responsibility for providing workers.
As times changed and more and more parents decided they were just too busy to split up maybe two weeks or less out of the season to divide 7-14 days among an entire team of parents (guardians), a handful, sometimes less of parents or friends, provided a herculean effort to keep the financial lifeline raising funds.
Eventually, finding those volunteers became nearly impossible, so the concession stand was contracted to the highest bidder for a few seasons.
Eventually, the cycle came full circle.
“I probably spend 40-45 hours a week doing concession stand related work,” offered Nicole as she smiled and sighed at the thought of the time involved. “My sister has only been absent a few days over the season, so she has been my savior.”
Michelle, in nodding her approval of her sister’s compliment with a smile added, “I enjoy it. I probably spend 20-25 hours a week at the stand.”
While game nights can be hectic, it’s the pre-game prep that is time consuming.
Next time you are at a Little League concession stand, take note of the various stock in food, drink and supplies. The food menu is a long way from just hot dogs, burgers, fries and pizza. Take note.
“Much of our time is spent traveling to stores, gathering items off shelves, packing and unpacking,” said Nicole.
The signage and price list has to be produced and legible. Equipment is cleaned nightly.
“I attended a Safe-Serv food training seminar,” added Nicole.
On many game nights, the pair are amongst a handful of volunteers doing the synchronized concession stand dance as volunteers weave their way from order window to pizza tray, candy shelf, the fryers, beverage cooler, soda dispenser, crushed ice drinks and the all important music to the entire dance- the register, Cha-ching!
“Many people have lent a hand and been very helpful,” noted Nicole.
One such trio has been Tasha Brennan and Laurel and John Masco.
While Brennan has provided game night assistance and the all important assistance on inventory excursions, the Mascos have been game night workers and post game equipment scrubbers.
“Tasha, Laurel and John have been great,” said Nicole.
Although there has been help, there has been nights where keeping pace with demand has been challenging.
On nights where the sisters are the lone chefs, money-managers and customer service reps, it gets nerve-racking and makes for a long night.
“We want people to get their food quick so they can watch their game, or whatever they need to do, so we want them to be satisfied with their service and the food” said Nicole.
On those long nights, a shift may start at 4:30 pm to start the opening of the stand process and the final lockdown and good night till tomorrow might not take place till 10:45 pm on doubleheader nights.
With nine year-old, Xavier Rosar still at the early part of his career, mom (Nicole) and aunt (Michelle) admit they will see spend their next few years of late spring and early summer nights in a cinder block structure dishing out palate pleasing food, quenching drinks and doing the nightly tango movement from order area to food and beverage location.
Nicole and Michelle wouldn’t have it any other way. They grew up here!