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Youth league prepares for opening day

As the Major League baseball season gets underway, it signals the beginning of a season nearer and dearer to parents and kids throughout Dallas County — youth baseball and softball.

Opening ceremonies will be held at Memorial Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m. The opening ceremony has been co-ed and gameless since 1991.

“We used to do the girls Friday night and the boys Saturday morning. We just ran into such a parking problem that each parking lot would fill up,” said Elton Reece, director of Selma Parks and Recreation. “It was just a big scheduling problem, so we just to having everybody come to the stadium the night prior to opening season, which has really worked out great.”

The 2009 season signals the beginning of a new era, pay-for-play. This is the first year that players have been charged a $10 fee to participate in youth activities, a move that Reece hopes will increase parental involvement and responsibility. With 1,300 youth participants, it appears that the fee is working.

“It’s been a learning experience for us and the parents,” said Reece. “. I’m hoping it’s going to make the parents a little more responsible.”

With no games planned for Thursday, the opening ceremony will take on a unique feel — one in which there are no records, missed calls or questionable decisions. However, Reece says that once the scoreboards are turned on, the spirit of the ceremony seems to dissipate.

“If I had one prayer that could be answered, it would be that they would carry the spirit, atmosphere and attitude from opening ceremonies and keep that same game face and philosophy all the way through the regular season.”