Alcoa Little League with an incredible Rally

Fire destroyed most of league’s equipment but season will continue

VANCOUVER — Rally the Raptor made his first public appearance Saturday, all in an effort to help out a local Little League in need.

Alcoa Little League is indeed playing baseball this spring, just weeks after a devastating fire destroyed most of its equipment.

Rally the Raptor stands for the national anthem in front of Alcoa Little League players at the league’s opening ceremony Saturday. Photo by Paul Valencia
Rally the Raptor stands for the national anthem in front of Alcoa Little League players at the league’s opening ceremony Saturday. Photo by Paul Valencia

The league held its opening day ceremony Saturday, using Fort Vancouver High School’s new softball field as the centerpiece. Just a few feet away, Alcoa’s main field remains off limits and the burned-out building behind home plate is fenced off for safety reasons.

The league lost so much on March 27 — five pitching machines, one set of uniforms, team bags, umpire gear, baseball, a freezer, field maintenance equipment, merchandise, the controllers for both scoreboards, plus pictures and plaques displaying its history — but in the days following, the league gained an even deeper appreciation for the local community and the baseball world.

Rally the Raptor is the mascot for the new Ridgefield Raptors, a summer wood-bat league for college baseball players. The franchise will play its inaugural season beginning in June.

Baseball players from Alcoa Little League line up to give high-fives to Rally the Raptor, the Ridgefield Raptors’ new mascot. Photo by Paul Valencia
Baseball players from Alcoa Little League line up to give high-fives to Rally the Raptor, the Ridgefield Raptors’ new mascot. Photo by Paul Valencia

The Raptors wanted to be there to help Alcoa celebrate its special day, a day that some were not so sure would happen this year.

“The day of the fire, that night, I was pretty devastated,” said Justin Cvitkovitch, the league’s president. “I wasn’t sure what to do, how to move forward. Within a day, the outpouring of support was enough to bring up my spirits.”

Adidas donated catching gear, batting helmets, bats, bags and more.

“All the stuff they sent us is top-of-the-line, high-quality stuff,” Cvitkovitch said. “They reached out to us, which make it that much more great.”

The International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 452, donated a pitching machine.

Dozens of names of people and businesses were recognized in the flyer Saturday at the ceremony. Evergreen Little League has given so much to the cause, as well.  More than 70 people have donated to the Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/fire-destroyed-our-facility-your-help-needed

Rally the Raptor made a first pitch at Alcoa Little League’s opening ceremony Saturday. Photo by Paul Valencia
Rally the Raptor made a first pitch at Alcoa Little League’s opening ceremony Saturday. Photo by Paul Valencia

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. And as of this past weekend, the field right next to that building is off limits.

However, Alcoa Little League is playing ball, using the other fields at its facility on the grounds behind Fort Vancouver High School.

“We’re here. We’re playing,” Cvitkovitch said. “This doesn’t stop us.”

This is the third year Cvitkovitch has been on the board and first as president. He said he could not have made it through the past few weeks without the help of everyone on the board and the many, many volunteers.

Justin Cvitkovitch, the president of Alcoa Little League, poses with Rally the Raptor on Saturday. Alcoa Little League held an opening day ceremony just weeks after a fire destroyed most of the league’s equipment. Photo by Paul Valencia
Justin Cvitkovitch, the president of Alcoa Little League, poses with Rally the Raptor on Saturday. Alcoa Little League held an opening day ceremony just weeks after a fire destroyed most of the league’s equipment. Photo by Paul Valencia

“That day, when I was standing there staring at (the burned building), I said, ‘What did I get myself into?’ I’m thankful for the board members and the community,” Cvitkovitch said. “Everyone from Portland to Vancouver and Clark County has been amazing.”

The Raptors helped out by bringing smiles to many faces with the first public appearance of Rally.

According to the team, Rally was “born in the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge” and now flies around and lives at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

On Saturday, he took a flight to Alcoa Little League and ended up dancing with young baseball players, giving high-fives (or would that be high-feathers?) and posing for pictures. He also threw out a first pitch.

Any first pitch was not a guarantee at Alcoa Little League a few weeks ago.

As Cvitkovitch said, Alcoa is still going strong.

“It’s all about the kids,” he said.

This building by the main field of Alcoa Little League was gutted by fire on March 27. The league stored much of its equipment in the building and lost it all. Photo by Paul Valencia
This building by the main field of Alcoa Little League was gutted by fire on March 27. The league stored much of its equipment in the building and lost it all. Photo by Paul Valencia
Just a few weeks after the fire, Alcoa Little League carried on with opening day ceremony. Dozens of businesses and even more people made donations, allowing the league to carry on with the 2019 season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Just a few weeks after the fire, Alcoa Little League carried on with opening day ceremony. Dozens of businesses and even more people made donations, allowing the league to carry on with the 2019 season. Photo by Paul Valencia
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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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