12-year-old Tye Williams of Bonifay has been playing baseball for half his life in the Holmes County Dixie Youth Baseball Association. Today, his parents are challenging a decision by the league that restricts him from playing.

From the age of 6, Williams has been a utility player, playing in whatever position needed. At age 11, Williams transferred to play for the Marianna Dixie Youth Baseball team in order for his grandmother to be able to attend his games. 

Due to health reasons, she was unable to make the trip from Marianna to Bonifay to watch Tye play. 

Williams’ parents say they went through “proper procedures” to secure the transfer to Marianna and did the same to bring him back to Holmes County to play this season. Coaches in both places signed releases for the moves. Williams played this season in Holmes County with no issues  – until he was selected to play in the All-Stars, district and state championship games. 

Williams and two other players were told they were ineligible to play in those games and that their parents needed to send in report cards and school records as proof of living and attending school in Holmes County. The parents did as requested, and while the other two players were cleared to play, Tye was not. 

Matt Williams, Tye’s dad, says the rules he was told were broken do not apply to this situation. 

“The reasons they gave us why Tye can’t play don’t make sense,” he said. “They told us that we can’t transfer from school to school. We didn’t. They also cited a boundary line change. There wasn’t one. If we unknowingly broke a rule, I would understand and we would leave this alone, but that isn’t the case. We followed the protocol with getting releases from each of the coaches and here we are dealing with this situation.”

Williams says he wouldn’t be as upset if he could just get a straight answer from Dixie Youth higher ups. 

“I don’t blame our local leadership at all, this is all on the Dixie Youth state leadership,” he said. “No one will give us answers, let alone talk to us at all. They are not following their own rules and doing what is right. I’ve tried to talk to Dixie Youth State Director Tony Smith and Dixie Youth Commissioner Wade Williams, and I get no response. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Tray Hawkins, the dad of one of Tye’s teammates, says he picked up the gauntlet of trying to “make it right.” 

Hawkins sent an email to “everyone with an email address attached to Dixie Youth.”  

“Tye has played all season long with his team,” Hawkins stated in the email. “He was selected for All-Stars in Holmes County, and Director Tony Smith has stopped him from playing in the district championship. We want to know why this child is being denied the sport he is eligible to play?’

“If you have ever played baseball, put yourself in Tye’s shoes and think about how he is feeling in this moment,” he added. “The memories being made by his teammates right now will last a lifetime. What a tragedy it would be for an adult to stand in the way of this child’s dreams.”

Williams says the coaches still had Tye’s name on the roster but were told it had to come off. 

“The state director has to sign the roster to approve a team to play in these games,” he said. “Our coaches were told that if Tye’s name was on that list that the team would not be allowed to play. I had to go sign a statement saying Tye couldn’t play. This is his last year with the Dixie Youth, I don’t understand why they are stopping him from playing the game he loves.” 

Calls to Smith and other officials with Dixie Youth for comment had not been returned on Tuesday morning.

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