18HMfield1 The busy season has arrived for the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department as registration is underway for the youth spring sports season.

The registration process began Jan. 2 and will continue through Feb. 23 for baseball and softball. Wrestling registration wraps up Feb. 2 because that season begins competition earlier, said Maxey Dove of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is probably our biggest season,’’ Dove said of the spring sports program. Athletes are being registered in youth baseball for ages 5-14, youth softball for ages 7-15, indoor soccer for ages 6-12 and youth wrestling for ages 6-12.

The outdoor sports will compete on a total of 13 fields; six at Municipal Park, two at Brower Park, two at Hope Mills Middle School, two at Baldwin Elementary School and one at South View Middle School.

Indoor soccer, which has rapidly grown into a popular sport for the town, is held at the gym at the Hope Mills Recreation Center, with Hope Mills Middle School used for overflow practices.

Dove said it’s important for parents to try and register their children as quickly as possible.

“We’ve got to hurry up and wait for the last day of registration,’’ Dove said. “Seventy percent of our registration is on the last two or three days. There’s really not much planning and plotting and team forming you can do until you actually close the door on the last day of registration. That’s when the hurry up and wait comes in.’’

Another reason it’s important to register early is every child who registers prior to the close of registration is assured a place on one of the town’s teams. Anyone who registers after the registration closes is placed on a waiting list and isn’t guaranteed of being able to play.

The registration fee is $30 per child this year, Dove said. Parents must register in person and should bring along a birth certificate and proof of residency to verify they are within the boundaries for Hope Mills set by Dixie Youth Baseball, the governing body for most of the town’s spring sports, except wrestling. Dove said the town is working on having an online registration process available in the near future, but not this year.

Once registration is finalized, teams are determined, coaches are chosen and the draft is scheduled so practice can begin as soon as possible.

All coaches with the parks and recreation department are volunteers who go through background checks run by the department’s human resources division, Dove said.

There will be one problem with registration this year. Damage to the Hope Mills Recreation Center caused by Hurricane Florence has not been repaired, so the recreation department staff is still in temporary quarters at Town Hall.

Dove said it’s hoped the recreation center will re-open by mid-January. Until it does, parents will have to come to Town Hall to register. “(For) the last six weeks of registration, we’ll hopefully be back in our new building,’’ Dove said.

There is also one big change in registration for Hope Mills this year. Dixie Youth Baseball altered its rules since last season and will now permit anyone in Cumberland County to play Dixie Youth Baseball in Hope Mills. “This opens up our boundaries so we can take in additional kids, which will help build our programs,’’ Dove said.

Anyone with any questions about the youth spring sports program can call the recreation department at 910-426-4109.

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