FALCONER - A lot has changed over the three decades or so - anyone can see that - but there's one spot, right here in Chautauqua County, in fact, that's been a model of consistency: the Falconer Little League.
And a big reason for that is Ray Lindquist.
Lindquist, you see, is now nearing the 30-year mark of involvement with the Falconer Little League, and, incredibly, he has spent the last 20 as the organization's president.
Not only has Ray Lindquist been the president of the Falconer Little League for 20 years, but two years ago he was also honored for 20 years of service to the Chautauqua County Umpires Association.
Given the way that these types of presidencies often change hands (as a parent's child moves up and out of the league more often than not that parent moves on with them) every two or three years, what Lindquist has managed is quite an accomplishment; one, he admits, he never saw himself achieving.
"Not at all," he said with a laugh last Thursday evening.
But it's providing that consistency (both to his own league and to his colleagues in other area leagues), along with being able to offer a vast store of knowledge - the kind that can only come through experience - that's kept him coming back, year after year after year.
"I think that the continuity from keeping the same leadership keeps our league stronger," Lindquist explained. "An aspect of a lot of other local leagues is that their president changes every two, three or four years when their kids are done playing, and (when that happens) the league loses that know-how and the leadership it had. When you have changes in leadership so often, it's difficult on the organization.
"For us, it's constant year after year. We've got a good group of coaches every year, and I rely on them to do a lot. But coaches come and go and the program has been stable."
In fact, in the Falconer Little League's almost 60 years of existence, the past 30 have been under the guidance of just two presidents: Jim Tracy and Lindquist.
And it's the stability that has played a role in helping the Falconer Little League, which is for children ages 4-12, maintain comparatively sizable participation numbers, even in the face of declining interest.
"We are, in this end of the county, one of the bigger (leagues)," Lindquist explained. "But we deal a lot with Randolph, Bemus and Frewsburg still because while we have five teams in our upper (division), some of those leagues have only two, or three. So it's getting harder and harder to support the leagues and we end up doing a lot of interleague play with each other."
But while stability is a major factor for his continued work with the organization, Lindquist, who first got involved when he coached his son's team some 29 years ago, has another motive as well.
"I enjoy helping out and seeing the kids as they grow," he said. "A lot of the kids that have come up through the league I still see their names in the paper. I follow them through their careers, and see how they've grown up and become solid citizens in the community."
So don't expect the longtime president (he is also the rules interpreter for the Chautauqua County Umpires Association) to step down anytime soon. He plans on sticking around for a while longer.
"I helped coach tee-ball with my son this year, when I was available," he said. "I started when he was playing ball, I coached him and I'll probably stay until my grandkids (are finished)."