Miller: JYBSA receives $50,000 donation
During the past nine years. Lynae Ellis has helped many a Janesville youngster flash a better smile.
Now the Janesville orthodontist is helping more kids show them off.
Ellis Orthodontics, S.C. has become the fifth permanent sponsor of a Janesville Youth Baseball and Softball Association field at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex, joining Prent Corp., Rock Road Companies, Lycon Inc. and the Phil McQuade Memorial group.
Ellis has committed a $50,000 donation to the organization, which her husband, Andy, and several others from the Ellis family have played a role in developing.
Andy and Lynae’s children participate in the program, which includes youngsters ages 5-15 in T-ball, baseball and softball. Approximately 850 young players use the complex each year, said Duffy Dillon, the JYBSA secretary and fundraising chairperson. That includes out-of-town players the 12 to 14 baseball tournaments and three softball tournaments held each summer attract.
“The three or four softball tournaments bring in 32 teams,” Dillon said.
Lynae’s father-in-law, Steve Ellis, has been a board member and/or a coach for 35 years. Steve’s brother, Dave, also has been a coach and board member.
“This program means so much to our family and to so many families,” Lynae said. “It makes me happy to be a permanent partner.”
Dillon said the donation will keep the costs down for the young participants. The field that the Janesville high school softball teams play on will be renamed “Ellis Orthodontics Field.”
“It (also) will help us keep making improvements to our ballpark, which is already on par with any youth baseball and softball facility in the state,” Dillon said of the Ellis donation.
When the youth sports complex opened in 2008, organizers hoped to raise $450,000 through nine permanent field sponsors.
The loss of General Motors curtailed the original plan, but the work to improve the complex continues.
“Our ultimate goal is to put field lighting on all our new baseball fields,” Dillon said.
While the basic hookup needs for lights on the six baseball fields is installed, it would cost approximately $225,000 to purchase and place the fixtures, poles and lights on those fields.
“If we get any money to light the baseball fields, we’re going to light the McQuade Field first,” Dillon said. “They (McQuade Memorial group) are the unsung heroes of this whole thing. They have been extremely gracious.”
Dillon said lights on the baseball fields would make it easier for parents and friends to attend games. Games are scheduled for 4:30 and 6:15 p.m. to get two league games on each field before darkness. With lights, those times could be moved to 5:30 and 7:15, which would ease the stress for working parents and volunteers to make it to games.
“And kids like to play under the lights,” Dillon said.
Besides lights on the baseball fields, JYBSA would like to add batting cages and renovate a hut that was given to the organization by the city. Those projects are besides the continual upgrade of the existing fields.
“We want everything we do to withstand the test of time,” Dillon said. “Everything we do is done with that philosophy.”
Any one that drives past the fields on Wuthering Hills Drive during the week and many weekends from late April through July, usually can see the hundreds of local youngsters playing baseball or softball on those fields.
They can thank the McQuade Memorial group, Prent Corp., Lycon, Rock Road and now Ellis Orthodontics, along with the dedication of JYBSA members, for their generosity in time and money to develop that land into one of the top complexes in the state.
Eventually there will be lights on those fields. For now, the smiles of the youngsters will do.
Tom Miller is a sports writer/page designer for The Gazette.