More times than not, the Minnesota Baseball Association Board hears about amateur teams folding, not wanting to form. So when a group from Excelsior presented the opportunity to add an organization at its Dec. 18 meeting, supportive was word most used.
"There's nothing more fun than the town ball experience. We have a core group of younger guys that were having a hard time finding places to play. Some of the area's teams are well established, they don't have a lot of turnover on rosters, so we thought why not start a team in Excelsior," Rick Birno, the head of the operations, said.
Birno, with aid from River Valley League officials including Ron Beckman and Gary Schleper, went to the state board for approval.
He expects the Islanders to be a little younger to start with, most committed players between the ages of 18 and 23.
"I told the state board thanks for having us. Ron Beckman and Gary Schleper with the league couldn't have been more kind and supportive. Gary is on the state board, so he helped us with the process. I told them we'd like to be around for a long, long time," Birno said.
Excelsior was approved for the 2020 summer season and will play in the River Valley League East along with Chaska, Chanhassen, Victoria, Prior Lake, Shakopee, Burnsville, and Eagan. The Islanders make an even eight teams, which helps with scheduling.
Birno said the team has 14 players committed thus far. The plan is to extend invitations to others interested in mid-January. "We've already had guys contact us about playing," he said.
Most of the core group comes from the Minnetonka-Eden Prairie area as well as Chaska and Chanhassen. Birno was a member of the Minnesota Baseball Association for years. His experience with that as well as a City of Golden Valley Parks and Rec employee has opened new avenues for the team.
With no field in Excelsior, the Islanders will play between seven-to-10 home games at the City of Chanhassen's newest lighted field at Lake Susan off Powers Boulevard near Highway 5.
"It's a great park. We have a number of Chan boys, so we're really excited for the opportunity," said Birno, who has two sons slated to play in Blake and Grant.
The list of things to do before the season is lengthy. But one Birno and the Excelsior group are excited to jump in on.
"There will be a learning curve I'm sure. We just hope to compete with the rest of the league this year. The young guys are just pumped for the opportunity," the coach said.