Starting the Southwest Youth Athletic Association

Updated Wednesday January 17, 2018 by Southwest Youth Athletic Association.

In Honor of Our Founders

Charter Members

  • Francis (Beany) Conwell - Deceased
  • Jerold Binkley
  • Frank Parkinson - Deceased
  • W.W.(Doc Scamon)
  • Al Stallard



The Southwest Youth Athletic Association was organized in 1970-1971.  The five Charter Members were Beanie Conwell, Jerold Binkley, Frank Parkinson, W. W. (Doc) Scammon and Al Stallard.  The purpose of the SYAA was to sponsor the Ken Berry League.  At their first meeting, 15 people attended.  At the second meeting, when it was time to do something, only the original five responded.

First, money was needed.  Individual memberships were sold for $10 and $25; business memberships for $100.  Then donations were solicited.  Six companies came through:  Fairmont Foods, Fanestil Packing, Seven Up Bottling Company, Tastee Bread, Downtown Optimist Club and C&W Market.  The Washburn Rural teachers held a pancake feed; a garage sale was conducted and with other fund raising projects, they collected a total of $5,000; a good sum but not nearly enough for the total project cost of four diamonds.  Approximately $76,000 was needed for the land, lights, bleachers, parking lot and concession stand.  The founders did not purpose to accomplish their goal in one year but over several years with assistance from the community.

The five founders went to friends and proposed they each sign a $2,000 note, which they guaranteed with their own money.  The loan was obtained through the Security State Bank at Auburn and that was enough to buy the ground (20 acres) and build the original four diamonds.  The loan was paid off long ago and the Miniette-Minorette, Mini and Metro diamonds were added in the mid-seventies.

The league was named after Ken Berry, a Washburn Rural athletic standout, who played major league baseball for the Chicago White Sox and California Angels.

Volunteerism is the key word behind the success of Southwest Youth Athletic Association.  Not a dime of public funds or tax dollars has been used on the complex.  Many individuals, business firms, optimist clubs, etc. and the community have contributed to the continuing growth of our program since 1972.  From the building of the diamonds to the writing of the organization’s philosophy, by-laws and rules, volunteers have made the dream a reality.  The wives of the five founders managed and operated the concession stand for many years on a volunteer basis.  We appreciate the good adult leadership for the teams.  Many managers and coaches have contributed their time and talents as the league has grown from 17 teams in 1972, to over 100 teams every season!