Thursday, April 30, 2009
Having blast at ball field
I still believe one of the best things this county has going for it is the Dizzy Dean baseball and softball league.
And I also firmly believe the league and our facilities need more support from county and municipal officials.
Last year Janice Wigg, league director, had T-shirts printed with the words – “Bringing our communities together.”
If you drove by Sam Coopwood Park in Holly Springs any night last week or during the day Saturday, you saw what I’m talking about.
The children, of all ages, came from all across Marshall County – Byhalia, Potts Camp, Holly Springs and surrounding communities.
And the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other kinfolk tagged along.
There were cars and people everywhere. It was packed – a tremendous sight to behold.
This league is bringing our children together. And the key word in that sentence is together – black and white.
I’ve seen, heard and read time and time again in my eight years as publisher of this newspaper, people making reference to the racial divide in our communities.
The best way to move toward racial harmony in Marshall County is by starting with our children, at a young age.
And what better way to begin than by putting them together on an athletic team and teaching unity. And letting them enjoy themselves.
Most of all, this league is about having fun – or at least it should be.
I’ve seen the smiles on these young faces for several years as a volunteer coach in the Marshall County Dizzy Dean League.
Saturday, while pitching to 7- and 8-year-old girls in two softball games, I saw the good times even more – from both teams.
And the score didn’t matter. Our team lost one and won one that day on the scoreboard.
During the games, some of our players ask – “What’s the score?” or “Who’s winning?”
Our common response is, “We will talk about that after the game. Right now, let’s have some fun.”
Then when the game has ended, we will tell them who won, and less than five minutes later, they could not care less. They want snacks. Or they want to go get ice cream or a sno-cone. Or they just want a “high five” or a big hug.
Sure, we’re giving out trophies in the pre-season tournament, but as coaches and parents, we have to make sure all these young people know they’re all winners.
I walked around to other fields Saturday. I heard some shouting at the umpires.
I will admit – I’m competitive and I’ve done that before, too. But as soon as I did, I wished I had not.
I contend that by shouting at the umpires from the stands, we’re not setting the right example for our children.
Or better yet – maybe the ones shouting at the umpires during youth league games should call Janice Wagg and offer to call a few games themselves. I’m sure she is in need of more umpires.
I tell my wife I hope I’m mellowing more when it comes to ball games. I think she thinks I’m making progress.
I can definitely confess that helping coach young girls the past two seasons has helped me in that process. I’m having a blast – win or lose.
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