Examiner Sponsoring Pair of Mount Kisco Little League Teams

The 12u Mount Kisco Chiefs last July. The crew pictured here constitutes this summer’s Examiner squad, along with six additional team members. Photo by J.C. Barone.

Examiner Media is sponsoring a pair of Mount Kisco Little League teams this summer, a recreation team and a travel team. 

The Examiner rec squad is a AAA Minors division crew of mostly eight- and nine-year-olds, and the age group has been sponsored by The Examiner for the past five seasons, including a magical undefeated championship season in 2016. In addition, this summer, The Examiner is also sponsoring a 12u travel team co-coached by Ken Diorio, a Mount Kisco Little League board member and former Examiner green rec team assistant coach. 

“We are hoping to come back intact from the lost spring,” said Diorio, an assistant to Coach Scott Spolansky during the 14-0 championship campaign in 2016.  “Families aren’t letting COVID steal their little league memories. Right now, we are expecting about 85 percent of our kids to return.”

Diorio’s travel team hits the diamond for gameplay on July 6 in Armonk. The rec ream, coached by John Zissu, begins play on July 11 on the league’s official opening day. The league announced it will play a six-week schedule and finish the season with what it dubs “Championship Saturday” on Aug. 15.

“So many families have struggled in different ways to adapt to this unprecedented situation and to us, the coaches, organizers and sponsors like The Examiner, this represents so much more than playing baseball – it is the opportunity to give a sense of normalcy back to our community,” Zissu said. 

The league announced various safety measures amidst COVID-19. Handshakes or any personal contact celebrations are prohibited. Coaches, players, umpires and spectators are asked to bring their own drinks and snacks. Also, coaches and other volunteers, along with umpires, are required to wear cloth face coverings, “whenever possible,” an email from the league with a long list of rules stated.

Diorio mentioned MKLL was able to attract new kids to league programs because of fewer conflicting sports and no sleep away camps this summer. The league is hoping to return with all 17 of its ages four to 12 teams and at least two travel teams. But Diorio also stressed that families shouldn’t expect business as usual. Participants should prepare for spaced out dugouts and spectator areas, as well as attention to disinfecting common areas and equipment. The league is also making personal equipment available for all 170 players so that gloves, bats and helmets are not shared.  
 
“Families are looking forward to return and see each other again under socially distant parameters,” noted Diorio, co-coaching the travel team by committee with help from former league star player Sam Byrns, a Le Moyne College right-handed hurler and Fox Lane alum. “Our board has worked closely with town and state officials to make it a safe and responsible experience.”  
 
The league has also been grappling with a variety of other challenges, including the ability to hit the diamond for practice before field access reopens on July 6. 
 
“But so many backyard batting cages have popped up,” Diorio explained. “Many parents have used this time to savior a backyard catch during the quarantine.”
 
The bottomline goal for coaches is threading a fine needle: marrying good times with safety.
 
“Our all-star team of league coordinators are working hard to get everyone back on the baseball diamond after the 4th of July holiday, with the safety of our kids and parents as everyone’s top focus and priority,” Zissu concluded. 
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