Pony Division: Frequently Asked Questions

What ages does the PONY Division serve?

Pony serves 13 and 14 year old players.  For the coming season, players would need to have been born May 1st, 2002 or later in order to be eligible.


What are “Olympic” and “Cascade” levels?

Seattle PONY Baseball divides the Pony Division into two subdivisions:
* Cascade Division is for players who have the commitment to play high quality, competitive, recreational baseball. Cascade teams generally play 18-22 games during the season, with weekly pre-season training starting in February, outdoor practices starting in March, and games running from April to mid-to-late-June.  For the most part, games are with Cascade teams from other regional PONY organizations, which may entail some travel outside the city, although games with independent teams may be scheduled as well.  Cascade teams usually have more 13-year-old players than 14-year-olds.
* Olympic Division is for players who have the skills and commitment to compete at the highest level. Olympic teams generally play 22-28 games during the season, with twice-weekly skills and physical training starting in January. Games run from mid-March to mid-to-late-June. Most games will be with Olympic teams from other regional PONY organizations, which typically also entails some travel outside the city, . Some games may be with regional Sandy Koufax ("select") teams. Olympic teams typically have more 14-year-old players than 13-year-olds.  In some years, an Olympic team of only 13-year-olds has been formed, and has been designated a “P-13” team.


How many Pony Division teams does Seattle PONY Baseball have?

The number of teams varies from year to year, depending on the number of players registered.  Historically, our player population has supported both Olympic and Cascade teams, but things can vary significantly from year to year.


Who are the coaches?

Pony Division teams are coached by highly-capable, motivated, and experienced coaches.  Historically, some teams were coached by dedicated volunteers, but because the level of play is higher and time demands greater, the volunteer pool of candidates able to commit to coaching the Pony Division is smaller. Coaches of most of our Pony teams are paid a stipend for their services.  Andrei Saar will coach the 2017 Olympic team.


When are tryouts?

Players interested in the Olympic team are generally selected through tryouts.  Tryouts for the 2017 season are:
•    August 14th, 11:00am-2:00pm at Montlake Playfield
•    August 21st, 11:00am-2:00pm at Montlake Playfield

Candidates are encouraged to attend as many tryout sessions as possible.  To be considered for the Olympic program, a player must attend at least one full tryout session.  Players who know they wish to play Cascade are not required to attend tryout sessions (see below for info on formation of Cascade teams).


What happens with players not selected for the Olympic program?

Players who are not selected for the final Olympic team roster are automatically assigned to the Cascade program.  We are committed to running a Cascade program that gives such players the environment and opportunity to play quality baseball, have fun and improve their skills.  Often players who do not make the Olympic team become leaders of their Cascade team and get far more playing time in key roles than they would have if chosen for the Olympic team.  In addition, players who tried out unsuccessfully for the Olympic team may have the opportunity to be “called up” and to join the Olympic team in the event that team may be temporarily short of players.


What if we are only interested in Cascade?

Players who do not wish to try out for the Olympic team may register as Cascade players, and are not required to attend tryouts.  We make every effort to make sure that all players who register are assigned to a team.  Indeed, it is rare that we are not able to place all registrants on a team, though as outlined above, it ultimately depends on the numbers of registrants for each program.


How are Cascade teams formed?

Players who are registered in the Cascade program as part of the tryout process will be assigned to a team when teams are formed. This will include players who tried out for Olympic and were not selected as well as players who registered directly for Cascade.  In the past, this has worked well and has allowed for the formation of one or more Cascade teams.

Adjustments are sometimes made to Cascade rosters between tryouts and the beginning of the season. Players who thought after tryouts that they would not participate decide to play when January rolls around. Others who planned to play decide that school and other commitments are too great.  Players who choose to try select programs may decide to return to Pony in the springtime.  Within this context, effort is made to ensure that the competitive quality of all Cascade teams is also maintained.


Do we have to register for Pony Division in the fall?

To participate in the Olympic program, players must register for the August tryouts and participate in at least one of the tryouts.  Please notify Coach Andrei Saar of your participation or any questions.  No payment is required with fall registration, but waiver must be completed. Advance, fall registration of Cascade players is strongly encouraged (and very helpful to us), but not required.  Registration will remain open throughout the winter and players who are undecided in September are welcome to join the program in the January/February timeframe.

How many games in the season?  What is the weekly game and practice schedule?

As noted above, Cascade teams play 18-22 games in the April-to-mid-June season.  Most weeks, Cascade players will play baseball three days, just as in Bronco, but some weeks there may be three games and no practices.  Conversely, there may be some weeks with two practices and one game.  Olympic teams play 22-28 games between mid-March and mid-June.  Olympic players can expect to play baseball, either game or practice, three or four times per week. 

We have a good deal of control over exactly when games are scheduled, but it is generally not possible to guarantee a regular schedule of specific evenings for games each week.  Most teams will have games every Saturday.  Seattle PONY teams usually do not play on Sunday because many of our players also compete in the local CYO league, which schedules games on Sundays.  As with other PONY divisions, we also deal with weather-related issues, particularly earlier in the season, so there are typically a number of rainouts.  The majority of rainout games are re-scheduled based on field and player availability.

Who do we play against?

Most games are scheduled in an “interlock” with other regional PONY organizations.  Olympic teams may also schedule games against regional select teams.  There is no centrally administered league and there are no standings or playoffs.  In the past, our Olympic and Cascade teams have played against Kirkland, North Seattle, Mountlake Terrace, Southwest Seattle, Maple Valley, Bothell, Mercer Island, Renton, Newcastle, Maltby, and Vashon.    Games against, non-Pony, independent teams are also possible.


Are Seattle PONY Baseball’s Pony Division teams competitive with other Cascade and Olympic teams in the region?

Typically, our teams have been slightly above average.  However each year is different, both in our league and the others we play. 

Where do we play/practice?

Home games and practices have been at Montlake Playfield, Washington Park, or Judkins Playfield.  Away games are throughout the region -- typically, the longest trips to the north, south, east and west are to Maltby, Renton, Issaquah, and Vashon Island, respectively.

How much does it cost?

We anticipate that 2017 fees for the basic program of January-March training and April-June practices and games will be about $500 for Cascade and $1,300 for Olympic.  This amount represents the program implemented last year.  It is worth noting, however, that where individual teams are motivated and like-minded on what they are looking for, adjustments by team (in terms of plans, training, cost, etc.) are possible and will be considered by the league.

Why does Pony Division cost so much more than Bronco?

Pony fees include indoor training, coaches’ stipend, and association-certified umpires hired by the league for all home games (two-man umpire crews for Olympic games), which are generally not provided as part of the Bronco program.

Is there a summer tournament (All-Star) program?

No.  Where a team or certain team members desire to include summer tournament play, they can either agree as a group or individually to pursue post-season opportunities for additional summer baseball at additional expense. Even when there is general interest in additional games, teams will often need to add additional players based on family vacation plans or other conflicts that typically arise during the summer.

What about off-season training?

Official (covered by registration fee) off-season training begins in January for Olympic and January/February for Cascade, including conditioning and indoor baseball activity.  Olympic teams typically train weekly from January into March and once their season begins, Cascade teams train once or twice weekly.  More training can be added, at additional expense, either in the fall or additional days in winter, depending on the wishes of coach and team.


Why would a player choose Seattle PONY Baseball’s Pony Division over “Select” baseball for 2017?

Lots of good reasons!  Among them:

•    Play locally with friends.
•    Great coaches committed to our community-based model.
•    Lower cost.
•    Competitive teams.
•    Seattle PONY Baseball’s community-based program nurtures the person as well as the player and emphasizes the importance of the relationship of the individual to the group.

Additional questions may be directed to the Pony Commissioner at andreisaar@gmail.com.