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New President Fine-Tunes Darien Little League

DARIEN, Conn. – David Ott has a big job ahead of him as the incoming president of Darien Little League . Big as in 1,314 players, 126 teams, and programs for boys, girls and Challenger athletes. It is the largest Little League in the nation, and Ott faces the task of running it.

Ott took over for Tony Farren late last year, and his objective is to make a great league better.

“Tony did a tremendous job," Ott says. "He left big shoes to fill. I think we have a great league, but we’re not perfect. There are some things we can do better.”

Ott became involved in the league 11 years ago. Two daughters played softball, and he now has a son in the baseball program.

The league conducted a survey last year, and the results helped Ott form a plan to tweak a few of the programs. The league will now offer more assistance and training for managers, and it will also offer player training with clinics run by Integrated Sports Training . The clinics will be named in memory of coach and board member Rick Stewart, who died in January at the age of 56.

“What came out of the survey is that one thing that really impacts the children is the relationship with their manager,’’ Ott says. “That taught us we had an opportunity to provide better support for our managers. We’ll try to give them guidance, from how to run a practice to how to handle a game situation. They all want to do well by the kids.”

IST, of Norwalk, will provide 2-4 hours of clinics for coaches and players. The league is hopeful the drills learned in clinics can be utilized in team practices. “Rick stood for manager and player development and training,’’ Ott says. The Stewart family requested that memorial donations be made to Darien Little League, and players in the Minor League will wear patches with his initials.

The league is already playing games. It is holding an opening day parade and ceremonies on Sunday beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Darien High School.

Besides being the largest league, Darien has also fared well on the field. It has been a strong District 1 contender in the past few years, and its softball program is quickly becoming the district’s gold standard. “From the first time I was involved, we were conscious about treating the programs equally,’’ Ott says. “We do clinics for the boys and girls. Some towns don’t do that.”

One of the key components of the league is its Challenger program for mentally and physically challenged youth. Annmarie Medwid, Beth Siemers and head coach Mike Donoghue are the new leaders for the Challenger program. They replace long-time leader Charlie Santos-Buch , who stepped down last year.

In a town where lacrosse, field hockey, football and soccer attract athletes, Darien Little League has stayed healthy. “It’s a great sports town,’’ Ott says. “We’re welcoming to anyone that wants to play softball or baseball. We want to be accessible to all the kids.”

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