MERRILLVILLE | Mark Magiera has a lot of excuses at his disposal.
Polar-vortex weather. Travel team proliferation. Girls soccer vogue. IPhones. IPads. Facebook accounts. Twitter madness. Justin Bieber.
"I'm not even going to try to put a finger on what's going on," Magiera said. "I'm just going to remain persistent and not quit and give up on this.
"There will be softball this year."
Magiera is the president of the Ross Township Girls Softball League, which caters to ages 5-18.
"We're open to girls from Merrillville, Crown Point, Hobart, Gary ... even Porter County," Magiera said.
Since 2009, the league's numbers have dropped from 127 to 90 to 85 to ...
"The bottom really came out last year," Magiera said of the 35 registered players in 2013.
"We ended up with only three teams (8U, 14 U and 18 U)," Magiera said "We played in the Crosstown League, so the teams all had other teams from other towns to play against during the season."
From the intake from the recent round of sign-ups and subsequent commitments, Magiera says they have about same number from last year.
"But there are about 3,600 students in the Merrillville school system," Magiera said. "I know there are a lot of great athletes out there. We're just not reaching them."
Throughout this month, Magiera is on a mission to bring the league's numbers up by getting the word out by any means possible.
"A lot of people don't know that we even exist, but we're the only youth softball league in Merrillville," he said. "People have said to me, 'I didn't know they still had youth softball in Merrillville.'"
They do, and Magiera has been canvassing the area, passing out fliers, incessantly emailing and calling to prove it's not a myth.
Magiera also coaches in the league where he often wears multiple hats.
"That's the thing, when you try to do so many things at once you tend to drop the ball at times," he said. "One time I was coaching third base and lady came up to me and said, 'Here's the rest of my registration fee.'"
Magiera said that he has more board members to assist him this season.
"But what we're really hoping for is more players," he said. "We're willing to do anything to get us more exposure.
"If there is someone holding a fundraiser or an event and they need someone to help out, we're willing to volunteer in the name of our league just to better let people know who we are."