July 7, 2011 12:23:00 PM
If you drive past Propst Park in Columbus these days, you may noticed the usually busy fields are quiet.
Summer-league baseball and softball came to a close last week.
Since March, more than a hundred volunteers have poured their time, energy and hearts into coaching 111 local teams. This year, the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority registered 55 baseball teams, with about 700 players, ages 4-12. Another 56 teams registered for softball, with about 920 players, from age 4 to adult.
Teams started drafts and practice in March, usually practicing about three times a week, and the season began in April.
With practice three times a week and games every night of the week, twice a week per team, coaching these young athletes is a labor of love that requires a lot of time. People from all walks of life, mostly parents of participants, come together in the spirit of true community sports. It is a gift and in a sense, a kind of ministry.
"They dedicate the bulk of their summer to these kids," Roger Short, CLRA director said of the volunteers.
It''s long dusty days and nights in the summer heat, earning an occasional thank you while having to reason with a parent unhappy his child is not on the mound or batting clean-up.
Along with keeping kids active and occupied with something productive, the summer leagues help introduce sports to kids who might shy away from school teams. Through baseball, they learn teamwork and good sportsmanship and make new friends along the way. At its best the experience builds confidence and enhances social skills.
As the dust settles on the fields, the coaches and players who made it all happen are well into a well-deserved break.
While some are repeat coaches, dedicated to the cause, many times the CLRA is short volunteers and has to go on the hunt for potential coaches.
It takes dedication, time and patience. And though the salary is non-existent, it certainly is not a thankless job.
Allow us to offer our thanks to all those who volunteered their time to this worthy cause.