Bear Trap almost ready for teams' arrivals

Between today and tomorrow, more than 150 Senior League Softball players, 30 coaches and 23 chaperones will walk into the Village at Bear Trap Dunes, pick up a key in the pavilion, walk over to their rented home and relax.

It’s seems like a simple, organized process. But for some people within Carl Freeman Communities, preparation for the one day upon which everyone arrives is almost a year-round effort.

“It gets to be a little bit of a challenge,” said Cathy DiGrazio, who works on the project almost all year. “What we do want to do is get everything together ahead of time. Last year, we’d been flying by the seat of our pants.”

For the three-year pairing of Downstate Delaware and the Senior League World Series, Carl Freeman Communities, the developer of Bear Trap, has provided rented homes for the teams to stay in while they are in town for the tournament. Freeman officials last week estimated this year’s cost for that all-important donation at about $50,000.

“They approached us,” about securing rooms for the teams, Josh Freeman said. “There’s a lot of money that goes into men’s sports and there’s not as much that goes into women’s sports. This was an opportunity for us to do that.”

But ask a couple of Freeman employees — securing rental homes in early August in Ocean View is not as easy as just handing over money. Last year, after the teams left, DiGrazio said she immediately started planning for this year’s tournament, reserving homes in Bear Trap for the teams to reside in while in town.

And since the teams will be going together to the ballpark, to get something to eat, and to the pool — which Bear Trap allows them to use — the houses not only have to be in the community, but they have to be close to each other.

“You get really serious about it six months ahead of time. There are endless details to take care of,” DiGrazio said.

Those endless details also include securing enough beds for players, coaches and one team mom in the 27 homes being used this year. Towels, wash cloths, sheets and pillows must be distributed properly throughout the homes, and that’s before anyone arrives.

When they do arrive, there must be a set place to pick up the keys. (Three years ago — during the first year of the tournament — a Freeman employee handed keys out of the back of a work truck, DiGrazio said.)

Then, two people per home must be designated key-bearers for the place — which will hold up to 10 players. The preparation is endless, one Freeman employee said, and it’s a constant learning process.

“How do you get their keys? How do you get them to their food? How you get them back?” DiGrazio asked, reading from a checklist on her computer. “Making sure keys are in their packets. Making sure you know who the keys go to because they have to share them. It’s just a lot.”

There seems, however, to only be one more step in the preparation before the teams arrive. Bruce Layton, the president of Lower Sussex Little League, said that officials will walk through the homes, noting existing damages, so “we don’t have to pay for damages the girls didn’t do.”

“We actually go in and take pictures of the houses,” Layton said. “There’s a lot of logistics to it,” he added of the preparation. “There are a lot of people involved.”

DiGrazio said the same last week, noting she was just one person helping the third annual pairing run smoothly.