Opening Day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

“Isn’t this a sight to behold,” said Elton Reece on Thursday night as the football field at Memorial Stadium was nearly covered with children aged 5-years to 14-years old representing this year’s Selma Recreational baseball and softball league.

” It’s tough to say that you are not truly blessed,” Reece told the parents.

This season, the Selma Recreation Department has over 2,500 kids filling 120 teams, counting the Dixie Majors and 15-18-year old softball programs that will begin in June.

There are also over 800 volunteer coaches and over 100 umpires that will be keeping the games moving along during the regular season.

Thursday night’s event was an opportunity for all the kids, parents, coaches and officials to come together and have their one moment in the sun before the games begin this afternoon.

Softball will swing into action tonight and then baseball will tee things up on Saturday morning.

“Our desire is to develop each of you into a complete player,” said Mayor James Perkins Thursday night.

Perkins took the opportunity to turn his back to the parents and address the players during the opening ceremonies.

“A complete package is a good physical body,” said Perkins. “A clear mind and a good spirit – baseball is a thinking man’s or woman’s game. But it also takes a strong body and a good spirit to play.”

While the event was jovial and an opportunity for the parents and players both, the message of sportsmanship for the upcoming season echoed loud and clear.

“We have this thing called sportsmanlike conduct,” said Perkins. “Treating teammates, opponents and officials right. By doing that, we can work towards developing that complete package.

I believe that you can do it. But we are going to need the coaches’ and the parents’ to help.”

“Coaches, parents, officials are all role models for these kids,” said Perkins. “But it’s going to be the parents that make the greatest impact.”

This year’s softball season will be dedicated to Beth Mott.

Mott retired from parks and recs this year after being with the program since she was old enough to drive.

“In 1982 we had 33 girls,” said Reece while being surrounded by the multiple slowpitch and fastpitch teams on the track at Memorial Stadium.

“Look at the track, the reason that this program has grown is because of Beth Mott,” said Reece.

“She’s been with us since before she was old enough to drive. We love her dearly.”

Reece and Perkins had one final message to deliver to the fans before the playing of the National Anthem.

“Always remember that these are kids,” said Reece. “Do not holler at them, give them all the support you can because this is all about the children. ”

After sending the children to the field, Reece called up all the coaches.

“This man has a heart, a brain – they are human beings,” said Reece. “Ninety-nine percent of my coaches work fulltime jobs. We support them umpteen thousand times.”