CORTLAND — The Lakeview Little Bulldogs want a place of their own.
First- to sixth-grade children play football and cheer through the youth nonprofit, which is based out of the Cortland-Bazetta area, but not affiliated with the Lakeview School District, according to Dominique Fuentes, Lakeview Little Bulldogs vice president.
The team played at the old Bazetta Elementary at the corner of Bazetta Road and Johnson Plank Road, but when the school was demolished in 2019, another baseball field was added for the Lakeview Athletic Club, Fuentes said.
“We are currently playing in the space between the baseball fields,” Fuentes said.
She said the Little Bulldogs organization wants to move out of the way of the baseball fields to a space of its own. The land is in Lakeview Board of Education’s name and a few years ago, the board told the Little Bulldogs it could utilize a field to the left of the baseball fields.
Lakeview Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor said it’s been a “cooperative” agreement between the school and the Little Bulldogs.
“In fact, I think they’ve been very patient about it,” Taylor said.
Fuentes said the group plans to move to the space, but it needs some work first.
“There were a lot of trees in there. We did have it brush hogged recently … but there’s a lot of larger pine trees in there that need to be removed,” Fuentes said.
She added that the level of the ground needs to be raised, which requires fill dirt, and then the area will need to be seeded. Fuentes said she doesn’t know the exact cost of the project, but it’s “quite a lot.”
Some day the club would like to have a pavillion or storage unit that could double as a meeting space and a place for cheerleaders to practice in the rain, Fuentes said.
Taylor said the school is “open to what they’re trying to do to improve the facilities for the kids.”
“The district really appreciates the work that these parents do,” Taylor said. She called altheltic feeder programs like Little Bulldogs “critical.”
“That’s how you support good athletic programs and support and grow a good community,” Taylor said.
JoAnn Tomsich of Bazetta, who began the Lakeview Little Bulldogs with her now ex-husband, Dave Miller, around 1989, said it gives kids “confidence that they didn’t have that they wouldn’t normally get.”
“The kids love it. There’s nothing better than watching those little kids. They have the heart of giants,” Tomsich said.
Before beginning the Little Bulldogs, Tomsich and Miller had been involved with the Champion Little Flashes and then started the Southingon Little Wildcats.
When they started the Little Bulldogs, Tomsich and Miller helped fund some $35,000 in costs and then fundraised to recoup the money, Tomsich said. They also “had a ton of help from the people in our community at Lakeview,” she said, including getting donated goal posts and a concession stand.
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