It's been four years and the Lawrence Girls Fast Pitch Assn. is still growing. But for Bonnie Mills, who along with several others created the association, there are big dreams still to fulfill.
This is the first year that there have been U16 teams and two U10 leagues. Someday, Mills said she hoped that the association's growth will allow an U18 league.
The league's growth has developed new interest, which could hopefully lead to the new league, according to LGFPA board member Janice Keller.
"In Lawrence there aren't a lot of girls who grow up with softball," Keller said. "Now there's more interest at a younger age."
Along with the early start Keller believes another reason for the growth is that the girls who are playing the game are liking it and sticking with it.
The league's growth is also there in the numbers.
In the 2006 summer season, there were 100 more girls who played softball as opposed to last summer. This association boasted 26 teams that participated in the U8, U10, U12, U14 and U16 leagues.
Eight of those 26 teams were in the U10 division, and this is where Mills hoped to grow the enthusiasm for the sport in order to keep around long enough so there wouldn't be a problem creating an U18 league.
In addition to the formation of an U18 league, there is another thing Mills hopes to add to the LGFPA in the next few years- its own field.
As it stands, the LGFPA teams play on city fields, such as at Broken Arrow Park, Holcom Park and Lawrence High School.
"We're saving up now," Mills said. "But we're nowhere near the amount we would need. We would have to do a big campaign to raise enough money."
Mills believes the LGFPA has come a long way from its roots. And now the association has filled a niche that wasn't necessarily there before.
When Mills started the association, there wasn't a "middle ground" between Parks and Recreation softball and the competitive traveling softball teams, such as the Phenix.
"For years there's been Parks and Recreation and it serves a purpose, but once they (the girls) hit junior high they try to get competitive, and they weren't," Mills said.
Mills likes to call the LGFPA the "middle ground," and believes that she has reached her goal of establishing the association as just that. But she said there are still strides to be taken to be competitive.
"The biggest thing is pitching," Mills said. "If you have a pitcher, you're competitive."
As the teams get more competitive in the LGFPA, Mills said she would like to invite other competitive teams to play in Lawrence, instead of Topeka, Kansas City and Basehor.
Keller said coaches and players around Lawrence have realized how competitive the association is and showed interest in being a part of the association.
"Teams that play in Parks and Rec. want to play more competitively, so they move up," Keller said of teams that move to the LGFPA leagues.
The association, which has grown by a strong word-of-mouth effort, has seen a number of rewards as the players have come into the league. But after only a short time in existence, there are still a few long term items the league would like to see for its participants.
"It's the fourth season," Keller said. "So we really haven't seen if any are getting scholarships."