Kickball event supports S&S Ball Clubs

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

by Sharon Rogers

In recent decades, community ball leagues have become as much a rarity in our society as the school ball fields on which teams first played. Playing ball with friends in a hometown against a rival team has been transformed to playing at a central municipal ballpark with teams assembled by administrators who grade and assign athletes based on skill level. Additionally, many youth opt to participate on teams outside their home community.

In the counties of Southampton and Sussex (S&S), community youth baseball and softball programs are as entrenched as farming and hunting. Growing up, most individuals spent at least one spring on a community ball field. The sights of uniformed Big-League hopefuls and their cheering parents, the ring of bats, and the glow of outfield lights are characteristic of Fridays and Sundays in springtime. The communities of Courtland, Capron/Drewryville, Hunterdale, Ivor, Newsoms, Sedley, Wakefield and Waverly currently host programs consisting of teams to include tee ball (ages 5-6), coach pitch (ages 7-8), baseball (ages 9-10, 11-12, 13-14) and softball (teams for 10 years and under, 12 and under, 16 and under), with some communities serving 100 or more youth each spring. These programs develop sport skills of these youth but also strive to instill values of sportsmanship, teamwork, and commitment. Many selfless individuals have committed to building these important programs, including volunteer coaches, concession workers, and ballpark and field staff.

The impact of S&S community youth development programs is reflected by the success of high school baseball and softball programs in S&S communities, but also by the lifelong friendships that develop among players, families, and coaches across these communities.

What many do not know is that it costs at least $10,000 each spring to operate each community’s program. Many communities cover expenses with funding from local civic clubs, business sponsorships, private donations and with sales from ballpark concessions, but struggle to grow programs because funding is so limited.

On Saturday, June 22 at 10 a.m., Wakefield Baseball/Softball is hosting the Southampton-Sussex Kickball Challenge to help raise money for these community programs. Teams will compete in the double-elimination tournament to win $500 for the community program of their choice. Kickball is appropriate for persons of all ages and abilities. All S&S communities are encouraged to enter at least one team and a fun day is guaranteed! Teams should be 10-20 players in size and co-ed (two females on the field). Everyone is welcome to play but most teams will consist of older youth and/or adults. Registration is $300/team and ends June 21. A Spirit Award will be given to the team who best displays enthusiasm and pride for their community through their creativity or team uniforms/shirts. Contact Sharon Rogers or Brian Moore at 757-653-7395 for registration or more information.

Sharon Rogers is from Wakefield, Va., and has worked at East Carolina University as an Assistant Professor since 2007. She is the daughter of Paul Rogers Jr., longtime coach in Wakefield.