Charles Heitman, left, and Gary Haven stand on the newly paved path at the Federal Way National Little League complex. The path now allows those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to easily access all areas of the complex. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Charles Heitman, left, and Gary Haven stand on the newly paved path at the Federal Way National Little League complex. The path now allows those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to easily access all areas of the complex. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Federal Way National Little League complex gets facelift before 60th anniversary

$50K grant leads to more accessible walkways, completed in time for spring season sign-ups.

Asphalt poured, walkways swept and construction has been completed. Now, Federal Way National Little League is ready to play ball.

In August 2018, the Challenger division of the Federal Way National Little League received a $50,000 grant provided by the King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants fund to renovate the baseball facilities, making them more accessible for those who use electric and self-propelled wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

Founded in 2010, the Challenger division is a dedicated program for boys and girls, ages 5 to 21, with intellectual and physical challenges.

The previous walkways of the baseball facilities consisted of loose gravel and dirt, except for an approximately 3-foot-wide paved path that only ran down the center entrance of the complex.

Now, a smooth 10-foot-wide paved path graces the entryway and travels to all four baseball fields, concessions and the bathroom facilities — leaving the entire complex accessible to all abilities.

“Not only our Challenger kids, but anyone with a wheelchair or walker had a difficult time,” said Charles Heitman, president of Federal Way National Little League. “Now they can go to any field they want. It shows the care we have for our players and fans that visit the complex.”

Northwest Asphalt and Miles Resources completed the improvements earlier in January, just in time for spring season sign-ups.

FWNLL has allowed Miles Resources to use the spacious baseball field parking lot to park equipment while working on various road projects, to which the resource company returned a favor.

“They sent in two days straight of [machinery], all volunteer,” Heitman said. “It was very generous.”

Volunteerism is a strong pillar of the league’s existence.

The league property, located at 450 SW Campus Drive in Federal Way, is privately owned by the league. Since the Federal Way National Little League was founded in 1959, the fields and all encompassing aspects have been fully volunteer-operated.

From the umpires to the concession stand workers and everyone in between: “No one here is paid a penny,” Heitman said.

The volunteers may all have their own reasons for dedicating their time, but it’s simple — they do it because they love the game, the community and the kids, Heitman said.

“This is their exit from the struggles of school or anything like that,” he said. “They come in here and this is like their Disneyland. They can be here and be a kid.”

This year is the league’s 60th anniversary.

Opening day will be a celebration of the league’s legacy to include all and have fun on the field, said Gary Haven, director of facility rentals and softball coach for the league.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 27 as FWNLL welcomes their 60th year with a baseball jamboree and various community events, he said.

January’s mild days and frequent sunshine are hopefully good weather omens for the upcoming season.

Haven has been volunteering with the league since the ‘80s, and has been heavily involved since 2002.

He said he wasn’t too strong of a baseball player, but when his girls wanted to play softball, he took it upon himself to become the best coach he could be.

“I started doing a lot of research, a lot of clinics, just to make sure I was the best coach I could be for them.”

Haven has coached a few softball teams in the area, but the complex is his home, he said. Last year, he returned to coaching a youngsters t-ball team and the 13-14 girls softball team.

“They’re a blast. It was one of the most fun seasons I’ve ever had with all those girls,” he said.

Volunteer opportunities are available in various positions including coaching and umpiring. The league hosts frequent trainings and clinics to teach volunteers how to understand one of America’s favorite pastimes.

To register in person and see the fields for yourself, visit the FWNLL complex the next two Saturdays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit fwnll.org.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

Emerald Downs still plans to have horse racing season in 2020

Horse training continues at Auburn racetrack

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week for March 13: Ruth Magana

Decatur senior captain leads bowling team to second consecutive NPSL, West Central District championship titles.

Local high school bowlers take All-League honor teams by force

Decatur senior Ruth Magana voted MVP; Federal Way’s Sami Isaacs deemed Coach of the Year by NPSL.

WIAA postpones drama festival, state dance/drill

Any regular season contests or practices are held at the discretion of each member school and school district

Todd Beamer basketball players made of MVP material

Seniors Aaliyah Alexander, Brycen Dillworth win NPSL Olympic Division honors as Most Valuable Players for basketball.

Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week for March 6: Chris Gunn

Todd Beamer senior places fourth at WIAA 4A State Dive Meet.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week for March 6: Al-Nisa Lewis

Todd Beamer gymnast qualified for, competed at state meet in vault.

Federal Way stumbles to Mount Si in state quarterfinal, 61-49

Eagles remain alive in the trophy hunt at the Tacoma Dome; Federal Way meets Sumner in an elimination game 2 p.m. Friday in the Dome.

Auburn Riverside coach Marcus Yzaguirre instructs his team during their 34-7 loss to Federal Way in a North Puget Sound League Valley Division opener at Federal Way Memorial Stadium on Sept. 27, 2019. The Eagles went on take the division title later in the season. OLIVIA SULLIVAN, Federal Way Mirror
Federal Way hires Auburn Riverside’s Yzaguirre as head coach

‘Coach Izzy’ returns to familiar school, community where he coached for 6 seasons.

Decatur cheer took home first place in two divisions at state earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Decatur cheer
Decatur cheer wins state titles

Decatur has a lot to cheer for this month. The Gators cheer… Continue reading