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Youth league opens season

Camera bulbs flashed like strobe lights at Memorial Stadium on Thursday as Selma youth league baseball and softball teams were introduced to throngs of proud parents and relatives.

The festivities were part of opening ceremonies, which signal the start of the recreation league season. The fans in attendance remained loud over the 40 minutes required to introduce the 89 teams.

“It’s a great thing for parents and grandparents to see their kids all dressed up,” said Reece. “This is the night of the year that’s everybody’s happy, because there’s no scoreboard.”

As he looked over the 1,300-plus athletes and coaches assembled on the stadium’s football field, Elton Reece, director of Selma Parks and Recreation, remembered the reason he loves youth sports.

“If heaven’s just a little bit like that, I’m ready to go,” said Reece. “The colors are together — human and uniform colors. It’s just a beautiful sight. It’s a true indication of what life is really about.”

The coaches received their fair share of recognition as well. The 89 teams that begin the season this weekend all have one common denominator — an unpaid, volunteer coach, and most work a full-time job on the side.

That doesn’t stop people like Boyd Financial Group coach Jamie Day from returning to the fields each summer. Day is entering his 10th year as a little league coach.

“I enjoy being part of the kids’ lives and teaching them the fundamentals of ball,” said Day.

Day’s players are happy to be back as well. Wendell Jackson is surrounded by a few new teammates this season, but that has not deterred his enthusiasm for the 2009 season.

“I just like baseball,” said Jackson. “It’s my favorite sport.”

All in attendance on Thursday smiled and carried a happy persona, a spirit Reece hopes to see as the season progresses. However, after an umpire yells ,“Play ball!” for the first time and the scoreboards light up, the competitive juices will likely return.

But the opening ceremony provides a memory for all involved of a time, rare as it might be, that all players, coaches, parents and umpires are happy at the same time.