February 28, 2017 12:39:22 PM
Kevin Green made a life-changing decision roughly 13 years ago.
Green left a stable, well-paying job with FedEx to open a business. A personal business venture is always a tricky proposition. However, he had two driving forces behind the move.
Daughters Logan and Regan were starting promising softball careers. As the number of travel ball tournaments started to grow, Green wanted to set his schedule so he could attend as many of the events as possible.
The business venture -- a successful dump truck business -- paid off and helps with constructions projects. The softball careers also have panned out, as Logan Green is a senior at North Florida and Regan Green is a sophomore at Mississippi State.
The Green sisters played one another this weekend when North Florida participated in MSU's February Freezer tournament. Kevin and his wife, Jodi, were in attendance for the three-day event.
"Saturday night we went to eat after the games," Regan Green said. "Everybody was laughing, talking, having a good time. It was the first time we had been together as a family since Christmas break. We don't get these opportunities. It was very special."
Logan Green is North Florida's ace pitcher. She already has thrown 65 2/3 innings. This is her second year at North Florida. She started her collegiate career at Jacksonville State. Regan Green is still learning the ropes of pitching in the Southeastern Conference. She has drawn four starts this year and has worked 20 2/3 innings.
"That is the kind of coach (Mississippi State coach) Vann (Stuedeman) is," Jodi Green said. "During the recruitment process, she told Regan she would invite her sister's team into play. It was Jacksonville State at the time, but it wound up being North Florida. Sometimes sports are not about winning championships, it is about family. It is about making memories. Everyone wants to win. Vann goes about wanting to win the right way."
Kevin and Jodi Green's two children always have been tight. With a two-year age difference, they were rarely on the same travel team. They did team up to win a Delaware Scholastic Athletic Association state championship -- the school's first state title in a girls sport. Regan returned for another state title before completing her prep career.
Jodi Green, who is an elementary school teacher, coached those high school teams. She said her daughters played against one another in some youth league play during grade school. However, it had been several years before this unique situation took place again.
"They have always been inseparable," Jodi Green said. "Two different personalities. Regan is more vocal. She is more outgoing. There's no doubt she sat back and learned a lot from her sister."
Regan Green said she still owes her sister for the biggest break of her softball career.
"It was a pitcher's lesson we had signed up for," Regan Green said. "My sister didn't have the right shoes that day, so she couldn't pitch. We didn't want to lose that spot, so I took it. It's really how I got into pitching. That was in third grade. We have really pushed each other ever since."
Hebron, Maryland is the hometown. Regan Green is close to 17 hours from home. Logan Green is close to 11 hours from home. Time with the parents is special indeed.
"Mother really wanted us to stay close to home to play," Regan Green said. "As Logan started getting recruited by more and more schools, she started to give in. You kind of knew we would be moving away and we would have to figure out a way to make it work. It was much easier on me because they had already broken the strings with Logan."
Jodi Green said her daughters' travel coaches played big roles in their recruitment. A two-time Gatorade player of the year for the state of Delaware (the Greens played across the state line), Regan Green was indifferent and didn't have a lean despite taking several official visits.
"After the Mississippi State visit, she called and said this is what I am going to do," Jodi Green said. "Vann is one of the premier pitching coaches in the nation. It is also an opportunity to play in the Southeastern Conference. That can't be taken lightly. She went from not being sold on any school to being all in with the Bulldogs. That happened rather quickly."
During her two seasons at Jacksonville State, the family could devote their extra energies on getting to Jacksonville, Alabama. After Regan Green signed, it was time to come up with a plan.
"We did three weekends with both schools last year," Kevin Green said. "I have the luxury of taking off. My wife can't miss that much school, so we went and saw each team for three weekends last year. We will probably do something similar this year. This was just a great bonus. Ever since Regan signed, we have been looking forward to this weekend, this tournament."
The Greens even had custom T-shirts made to wear for the tournament at Nusz Park.
The only hitch to the whole weekend took place Friday. The sisters were scheduled to pitch against one another in the tournament's third game. However, the North Florida coaching staff used Logan Green in North Florida's first game of the day.
Regan Green started for MSU in its game against North Florida. She threw four shutout innings before being touched for a game-tying grand slam in the fifth inning. After Morgan Bell homered to give MSU a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Logan Green entered and finished the game for North Florida. Regan Green was lifted to start the sixth but still picked up the win.
"Logan was really disappointed she didn't get to start that game because it is something they had all be looking forward to," Jodi Green said. "It made it a little easier for us as parents. We just had one pitcher to pull for at a time."
MSU won the rematch 4-1 Saturday. Logan Green went the distance in that game, while Alexis Silkwood pitched a complete game for MSU.
"It was an incredible experience," Kevin Green said. "This was a special time for our family and a lot of fun. We know the lucky opportunity to see both pitch at the same time."
Regan Green credits staff ace Silkwood for helping her to become a better pitcher. She also is soaking up all of Stuedeman's knowledge.
"Alexis is a senior, and she is a great team leader," Regan Green said. "She works with each of the other pitchers as if she is working on her own game. Her knowledge is incredible. When I took my visit, that is what really stood out to me. This is one big family.
"We have an incredible bond and an incredible togetherness. When I took my visit, as soon I set foot on the campus, I knew this was home. I felt like part of the team even though I had not signed anything."
The creation of the SEC Network and the ability to stream games on-line has also made time apart easier on the Green family.
"Playing in the SEC just has so many advantages," Kevin Green said. "Thanks to the streaming, we can live and die on every pitch just like we are in the stadium. Vann is a people person, and for her to take our daughter in and make her feel special, well we appreciate that so much. It has been a great ride so far, and it will continue to get better."
MSU won all five games it played in the event to win the championship. MSU will put a seven-game winning streak on the line tonight when it plays at Southeastern Louisiana.
For Kevin and Jodi Green, it is back to running a business and teaching children. Monitoring tonight's game will be done through social media.
Business and softball are good these days for the Greens.
"Everything worked out for the best," Kevin Green said. "Every aspect of life is a risk to some degree. We have been richly blessed."
Scott Walters is a sports reporter for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter