The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

WAYS TO ATTACK A WET INFIELD !

101. Tools of the Trade

101a_overviewLike any craftsman, an athletic field groundskeeper relies heavily upon the tools he or she uses to hone their craft of maintaining ballfields. From basic tools like rakes and shovels to the more specialized tools like a level board or slope gauge, groundskeepers use a wide range of hand tools to accomplish their work with a varying attention to detail.

You probably have ideas of what some of these tools are used for. You may or may not be right. A seasoned groundskeeper will likely show you several other ways he or she has used that tool for groundskeeping tasks.

In this introductory module we take a look at some of the tools of the groundskeeper’s trade. Because these tools will be used in later modules, we’ll get you familiar with their names, their application, and their care.

102. Mound & Home Plate Care

103-intro_moundhome-bigSo much of a baseball or softball game involves the one-on-one battle between pitcher and batter. Every pitch of every game involves the mound and home plate area. Consequently, no areas on a ballfield see more wear. From the first pitch to the last out, players look for firm, stable footing in the mound landing area, the batter’s boxes, and catcher’s box areas. If daily maintenance of the mound and home plate areas is followed, your field will likely satisfy most players who use your fields.

In this module you’ll learn proper maintenance of mound & home plate areas.

103. Lip Management

103a_overviewWith 2 or 3 different surfaces, baseball and softball fields are unique. Anywhere the infield skin or warning track come in contact with turfgrass is where “lips” can form. If this happens, it is not only bad for playability, it affects proper drainage. As a result, many problems with an infield can be traced back to poorly managed lips.

In this module you’ll learn how to properly manage a lip.

 

104. Infield Skin Game Day Prep

104a_overviewIt’s all about the infield skin and how well it plays. That’s what it boils down to. The reputation of a groundskeeper at any level — big leagues included — is not determined by how beautiful their grass looks. It’s not determined by how fancy their mowing pattern is. Those are things the average fan watching a game will notice.

The players? They’ll remember an infield that is prone to bad hops or one that drains poorly, and that’s what ballplayers will be talking about amongst themselves.

Properly maintaining an infield skin is an art. The groundskeeper needs to truly know the “personality” of the skin. How will it react to varying weather conditions?

105. Moisture Management

105a_overviewMany groundskeepers fear water. But the reality is water is the lifeblood of a ballfield. We rely on water to help keep the infield soil as one cohesive unit, to provide a resilient playing surface, and to help reduce wear.

That’s right. Water is the key tool in reducing wear. Moisture and clay are the glue holding infield soil together. Without moisture, your field can become hard and unforgiving to the players. By simply adding a water line out to your field, you can apply water to the skin and drastically improve the quality of your playing surface. Moisture Management is an art form…

106. Creating Foul Lines

106a_overviewThere’s something about a well manicured ballfield. It captures the attention of players and fans alike. The geometry of the sport naturally draws the eye in. With each park having unique dimensions and it’s own flavor of the local scenery, there’s variation visually from park to park. But all parks are framed with the straight, crisp, and vibrant white of the foul lines.

In this module, you’ll see what goes into applying these lines.

107. Base Placement & Care

intro_baseA well-maintained ballfield has a smooth surface, both on grass and skinned areas. But in contrast stand the bases, protruding up from the smooth surface. One wrong step, one improper slide, and injury can occur. It is up to the groundskeeper to minimize that risk.

In this module you’ll see how frequent base inspection and base care — along with proper maintenance to the playing surface surrounding the bases — goes a long way toward reducing the risk of player injury. This module is presented in two sections with a couple pop quizzes along the way.

108. Rainfall Rescues

108a_overview“This would be the easiest job in the world… if it weren’t for that tarp.” That’s what Pat Santarone — Baltimore Orioles head groundskeeper from 1969 to 1991 — used to say. Luckily, most of you will never have to wrestle with a 175 foot tarp that can weigh up to a ton! That is definitely a job suited for fields with plenty of man power.

As a groundskeeper, rainfall can create some of your biggest challenges. Coaches, players, and league officials will lobby to get back on the field as soon as possible. Your job is to resurrect the fields after rains to bring them back to being safe and playable before allowing play on them. You’re faced with a balancing act. You need to work with the field and Mother Nature to get fields ready, while understanding people want to play as soon as they can.

In this lesson we’ll show you how to get ballfields back to a playable condition, and some preventative measures that will help lesson the effects of rain.

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We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

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[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

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Officials celebrate grand opening of The Bridge Sports Complex with ribbon-cutting ceremony !

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — The Bridge Sports Complex in Bridgeport kicked off its Grand Opening Weekend with a private event Friday evening, during which state officials, including Gov. Jim Justice, city officials and facility leadership were featured speakers.

Following a reception and VIP tours of the complex, City Councilman Dustin Vincent opened the evening’s ceremonies.

Justice said the community should be proud of all the phenomenal things happening in North Central West Virginia, including The Bridge Sports Complex.

“This facility is an accomplishment beyond belief,” he said. “I’ve been a coach for forever. I love kids beyond good sense, and what you’re doing right here will stimulate not only the growth and maturing of kids, not only will it give so much opportunity to kids, but it will drive your entire community.

“You will absolutely grow with this and prosper like you can’t imagine.”

Jason Clement, CEO of Sports Facilities Companies, said that in the firm’s 18-year history, he has worked with more than 2,000 communities that have had an idea to build a sports and event recreation center.

“Very few of those communities are able to pull something off. And even less of those, almost none, are able to pull something off as beautiful as this,” Clement said. “What makes Bridgeport different? Special? How did we arrive here today? We get to see a lot of communities, and, ultimately, I came up with two words: Leadership and wisdom.

“A lot of people think wisdom is just about being intelligent and smart, but it’s also really about knowing how to make the right decisions consistently. To arrive at this place today and in this facility, I am grateful for those that were in the room making those decisions — both the hard ones and unpopular. That leadership is what has gotten us here today.”

In a video presentation, Councilman Bob Greer said the sports complex was not only wanted, but needed.

“I think we are meeting some needs that have been in the community for a long time,” he said. “We have people from our community that travel every weekend to go and do something on a turf, play ball or swim. And we thought, ‘Well, why not turn that around and have them come here and fill our hotels and our restaurants on the weekends?’”

Mayor Andy Lang said the sports complex has been in the works for several years, noting the idea was born during a discussion about the need for an indoor walking track other than the mall.“We are very proud to have this facility,” he said. “This is for Bridgeport, for Harrison County and for North Central West Virginia. …This is for us, but it’s also for the next generation and the generation after that.

“We are a multi-use facility with room to grow, and this is really going to up the game for the way of life here in North Central West Virginia.”

Design work on the $60 million project began in 2017, according to officials.

State-of-the-art amenities for a variety of sports and fitness activities are among the facility’s offerings, including:

— A fitness center, elevated walking track, cardio and strength equipment, free weights and group fitness classes.

— A nearly 3,500-square-foot indoor turf field for year-round soccer, lacrosse and flag football, with retractable batting cages with pitching machines for baseball and softball.

— A 10-lane competition swimming pool and a recreation warm-up pool.

— Six hardwood courts suitable for basketball, volleyball and pickleball.

— An indoor “Clip n Climb” area, featuring over 30 indoor climbing walls and an auto-belay system.

— Meeting and event spaces, a cafe and concessions and an outdoor turf field.

   The Bridge is scheduled to hold an open house celebration from 9 a.m. to noon today, during which guests will have the opportunity to participate in competitions and try the Clip n’ Climb area and a free group fitness class.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

The Bridge Sports Complex Announces Grand Opening !

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va,  — North Central West Virginia’s newest indoor sports and recreation center, The Bridge Sports Complex, will officially open its doors with a celebration later this month. The Grand Opening weekend will begin with a private event Friday June 25 and welcome the community to an open house celebration on Saturday, June 26th from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

The evening of Friday, June 25th will feature a selection of speakers whose dedication to this six-year long project culminates with the ribbon cutting. Mayor Andy Lang and West Virginia state officials, as well as a representative from the complex operators, Sports Facilities Companies (SFC), will be among the distinguished speakers. Lang expressed his excitement last week. “We have been working toward this day for a long time. The Bridge is the result of collaboration within the entire community, and we are particularly grateful for the support of City Council over the past six years. We look forward to the continued support of the community as we extend our reach throughout all of North Central West Virginia and become a leader in sports tourism.”

The Saturday morning open house, which is open to the public, will take place from 9:00 AM12:00 PM. Guests will have the opportunity to participate in friendly competitions such as a 40-yard dash, Home Run Derby, and more. Attendees are welcome to try the Clip n’ Climb area as well as a free group fitness class. Lunch tickets will be provided to all attendees. Guests who complete all activities will be entered in a raffle to win a free membership.

About The Bridge Sports Complex

The Bridge, located in Bridgeport, WV, managed by Sports Facilities Companies (SFC), is the newest destination for all things sports, recreation, and wellness. With 156,000 square feet of courts, turf, aquatics, fitness, and more, The Bridge is the premium gathering space for sports, recreation, and wellness in North Central West Virginia. To learn more, visit thebridgewv.com.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

Bulldogs Sports Complex Nears Completion !

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The Binghamton, NY  Bulldogs joined our community in 2017 and since then team owner Jimmy Evans has worked to get the organization more involved with the community. The team’s latest project looks to continue that progress in a major way.

For the past 7 months, construction has been underway on the Bulldogs Sports Complex located at 1025 Robinson Hill Road in Johnson City. The facility will serve as the home court for the Binghamton Bulldogs. Out of the American Basketball Association’s 185 teams, this will make the Bulldogs the only one in the league with their own dedicated facility. Evans says this has been a dream of theirs since the Bulldogs started playing.

“We’ve been renting space in many different local schools and colleges and a lot of the venues can’t hold the fans that we get,” says Evans. “We really needed our own space to accommodate our growing fan base.”

The complex’s uses don’t stop there however. It will feature an NBA size court for the Bulldogs to play on, along with 2 high school size courts. These courts will be used for a variety of youth basketball programs from summer camps to clinics and training sessions. Evans says in the fall they will be launching 7 or 8 AAU teams and that they will be hosting tournaments often. He says it will be basketball around the clock.

“It really seemed like just the perfect option for me and what I enjoy doing,” says Evans. “I love giving back to the community, I love creating opportunities for people through sports. I think sports are a great way to channel energy as a kid and learn some values and responsibilities. And I think this complex will offer a lot of people that opportunity.”

Along with all the youth basketball Evans says they will be offering volleyball programs as well.

Evans says they already have basketball tournaments in the works for August and the Holiday season. The Bulldogs Sports Complex will be holding its first summer camp at the end of June, with the grand opening to the public planned for the end of July.

For more information you can visit their website, or their Facebook page.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

 

Construction begins on $36M sports complex in Kansas City’s Northland !

June 18, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Construction is beginning on a $36 million multi-sport facility north of the river. The complex, near Missouri Highway 152 and Platte Purchase Drive, will have 10 synthetic turf fields to be used for soccer, football, baseball, softball and lacrosse.

It will be operated by Sporting Fields Athletics, a division of Sporting KC.

All 10 fields will be lighted with parking, trail connections, an inclusive playground for kids who face challenges, and a field house with restrooms and concessions.

All of the speakers at the groundbreaking Friday talked about how difficult it was to get this project done, but said in the end families won’t have to face long drives to Johnson County, Kansas or elsewhere just to watch their children play sports.

“It’s just going to be a catalyst for growth, for economic development up here, because the things that will come with these soccer fields are going to be tremendous,” said Councilwoman Teresa Loar, who led the campaign for the project. “We will have hotels. We’ll have restaurants, we will have retail. We will have a lot more entertainment. That’s what these fields will bring into Kansas City,”

The 76-acre sports complex already is seeing a $375 million dollar multi-use development around it that will include housing, retail and office space.

The sports complex is only a 10 minute drive from KCI Airport and boosters promise that it will draw tournaments and visitors from across the nation to play in Kansas City.

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We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

 

 

The BEST whisker anchor plug you will find !

Black Foam Whisker Base Plug

The BEST whisker anchor plug you will find. Strong & durable, the snug fit keeps infield debris out of your base anchors. Buy them individually or in a Beacon Bucket with either 15 or 30 base plugs, a handle, lid, and featuring bilingual tips for base maintenance. The Black Foam Whisker Plug fits 1.5″ anchors (whisker colors vary).

Richland County looking to build a sports complex to attract huge travel tournaments !

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Richland County Recreation Commission director Lakita Watson welcomes participants in the Atlanta Braves Country Battles travel baseball tournament at Kelly Mill Sports Complex in Elgin in April. The commission and Richland County Council are considering the prospect of a travel sports complex in the county that can host large tournaments and attract visitors from throughout the country. Provided/Richland County Recreation Commission.

Richland County Recreation Commission director Lakita Watson talks about the agency’s plan for a large sports complex during a meeting at Doko Meadows Park in Blythewood on June 3.

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COLUMBIA, GA. — More than 90 youth baseball teams poured into northeast Columbia in April to participate in a travel tournament affiliated with Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves.

The visitors spent about $275,000 while here competing at Kelly Mill Sports Complex in Elgin. Richland County Council chairman Paul Livingston attended and offered remarks to the participants; the event was by all accounts successful and well received.

“That’s a four-field complex,” said Scott Powers, director of Experience Columbia SC Sports, which markets the area’s sports offerings to visitors. “Imagine what we could do with an eight-, 10-, 12-field complex.”

Richland County officials have imagined what such a space would mean for the area and are beginning to explore where such a layout would be built and most importantly, how it would be funded. The county has received separate requests from private groups via Livingston for millions of dollars in county hospitality tax money raised from restaurant meals and grocery purchases to help build similar features.

The public Richland County Recreation Commission, seeking a new direction with agency head Lakita Watson, has determined such an offering is needed and is moving forward with seeking public input and partners to get it done.

A Charlotte-based consultant hired by the commission has already confirmed that such a complex would be successful, Watson said. Next steps will be to talk with county officials about potential locations, ways to pay for the work and possible private partners.

County decision-makers have already received requests from a private organization for $4 million in public money for a volleyball complex and another from the nonprofit S.C. Kings Foundation for $9.5 million in tax dollars to help build a sports complex in Irmo.

County Council, instead of considering the individual requests, decided to consider the idea of a travel sports complex more generally, beginning with a committee.

Livingston said some on council has always felt like the county’s hospitality tax funds could best be used toward a few grand projects instead of dozens of smaller grants to organizations whether the effect is perceived to be less felt.

The county spent millions to renovate Columbia’s Township Auditorium this way. And while the improvements helped draw big-name acts such as John Legend and Avett Brothers to the concert venue, the county unsuccessfully attempted to use hospitality funds for a destination farmers market off of Shop Road and a water park on county property on Farrow Road.

He said he doesn’t know the direction the discussion will take with council on a sports complex “but it at least warrants a discussion.”

“I support getting back into that,” Livingston said. “I support trying to get a really nice destination site for our community.”

Watson envisions a complex with indoor and outdoor facilities that can accommodate numerous tournament competitions at the same time. The site should be in a visible area with the infrastructure in place to easily get people in and out, and preferably on land the county already owns to avoid the additional cost.

Asked about the prospect of the sports layout setting off a fight for which council member can secure the complex for their district, Watson said a list of objective criteria should help determine the ultimate location and avoid jurisdictional spats.

The necessary space is much larger in scale than a typical recreational park tailored to a specific community, Powers said. A baseline project could easily cost $25 million to $30 million, he said.

The payoff could come in the form of visitors who come from all over the country to compete in tournaments, spending money in hotels and restaurants and driving demand for new hotels around the facility. Travel sports was a $45 billion industry in 2019, Powers said.

Columbia, once fairly competitive with other regional destinations, has fallen behind in recent years as travel sports have boomed, Powers said.

The capital city could learn from similar cities like Rock Hill that don’t have the beach or mountains to attract visitors but have made sports tournaments the draw. The city of Rock Hill, south of Charlotte in York County, has Cherry Park and Manchester Meadows soccer complex — amenities that bring in millions in economic impact.

The Braves tournament at Kelly Mill had to spill over to two fields overseen by the Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commission. A 60-team travel basketball tournament in March brought in $400,000 in outside spending but occupied five Richland County Recreation Commission gymnasiums throughout the area.

“It’s all come back to whose got the money? Where is the money going to come from?” Powers said. “I guess that’s the biggest nut we have never been able to crack, is how are we going to fund that?”

And while he has professed the area’s need for such a sports complex for more than 15 years, Powers said he’s not suggesting elected officials open the public’s wallet and that the best option will likely include significant support from the private side.

The county recreation commission’s ability to borrow money for big projects has been curtailed for the next 10 years because of previous financial choices that tied up the agency’s debt.

The commission is unique in that its board is appointed by the state but receives its operational funding and limited money for park improvements from the county, Watson explained during a public meeting in Blythewood on June 3. Money will also be needed to eventually improve or replace aging county pools like Trenholm Park — a recent survey showed county residents would like an indoor pool, and such a facility is part of Watson’s long-range plan.

That’s all to say the agency can’t bear the cost of a state-of-the-art sports complex on its own.

“But are there other ways? Yes sir,” Watson said. “We just need to sit down and figure out what they look like.”

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

The Bridge Sports Complex officially opens to the public in Harrison County !

Posted: Jun 10, 2021

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – A new sports facility in Bridgeport is officially open.

The Bridge Sports Complex opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.

Employees around the front desk at The Bridge Sports Complex
The 156,000 square-foot facility is already busy with summer camps for kids and adult sports leagues.

The complex also offers basketball courts, a nearly full-size track, a climbing area and more.

Preview: The Bridge Sports Complex
Officials for the complex said residents have been excited to see what the facility is all about.

“It’s been great. We’ve seen a lot of strong interest from people just wanting to come check out the facility, excited to finally use it. I know it’s been a long time coming,” said Andrew Kurtz, director of business development at The Bridge.

To view or purchase memberships for The Bridge, visit its website here.

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    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

    * ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

    ( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

    1-800-622-7370

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    www.sadlersports.com/soda

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

    Since 1981”

    www.sportsplexoperators.com

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

    Since 1981”

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    [[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

    ** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **

COMMENTARY — Call made to rekindle softball’s ‘glory days’ !

Virgin Islands softball once soared and reached the pinnacle of international competition, excellence, and prominence. However, its status and standing has declined precipitously in the past decades. As such, the softball governing body needs to take urgent action to re-elevate it to local, regional and international competitiveness and prominence. The exuberance of its glory days needs to be recaptured.

George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, presumably invented softball in 1887. It was labelled “indoor baseball,” but it moved outdoor in spring 1888. Also called mushball and kittenball, the sport changed officially to softball around 1920. Softball includes three disciplines: fastpitch, modified fastpitch, and slow pitch.

Softball was organised in the United States in 1933 with the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA). Men first played the sport, but now it is more prevalent among women, growing in popularity across the US and the rest of the world. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) lists 69 countries and territories in its standing. And the International Softball Association lists 122 national federations as members.

Softball is currently an Olympic event for women. It first became an Olympic event for the 1996 games, but softball and baseball dropped after the 2008 Olympic games. The Olympics placed softball and baseball back in the games for the 2020/2021 games in Tokyo, Japan. Their inclusion for the 2024 games is uncertain.

US service members played a key role in introducing softball outside the US to other countries. Since the official softball organisation launched in 1933, many organisations have formed and many competitions have been rolled out. They include the International Softball Federation (ISF) in 1965; the first Fastpitch World Championship for Women in 1965; the first World Competition for Junior Men and Women in 1981; and the Slow-pitch World Championship in 1987.

In the VI

Closer to home, Gaston Penn learned about softball in St. Thomas. He is widely credited with bringing the game to the VI. Randolph “Mose” Malone and Archibald Francis were instrumental in engaging women in the sport in the VI. Softball was first played in Road Town at the Old Recreation Ground, now the E. Walwyn Brewley Field.

In the early days, equipment was in short supply, and the players had to improvise. For example, bats were fashioned of branches from trees in the nearby hills, and gloves were prized possessions that were generally shared. Some fields were rocky. For practice, broomsticks and other pieces of wood were used to hit rocks, sponges and tennis balls.

I remember hitting rocks at Major Primary School and sending a sharp liner into Leslie Malone’s taxi door. Hearing the impact, I dashed for cover and concealment, but the fellows ratted me out. Mr. Malone was heated, but it was all good in the end, even after a scolding at home.

Nonetheless, a strong passion for the game ensued, and the game spread like wildfire throughout the territory’s communities. The villages embraced, owned and supported their village teams. The village supporters were the 10th man when their teams were playing. They turned up and turned out to robustly support their teams. Each village and geographical area had at least one team.

Teams included the Tigers, Marlins, Astros, Jets, Twins, Bears, Animals and Vets in Road Town; the Hot Shots and Byrds in Sea Cows Bay; the Hunters in Huntums Ghut; the Blue Jays in Cappoons Bay; the Blue Wings and Red Legs in Baughers Bay; the Hawks, Roots, Atoms, Knights, Rays and Mars in East End/Long Look; the Clippers and Royals in Brewers Bay; and the Rockets in Belle Vue. Women’s teams included the Warriors, Angels, Amazons, Hawks and Lady Braves. Clearly, this list is incomplete, for many teams may have been inadvertently left out.

School teams

Moreover, in addition to league play, the government introduced softball into primary and secondary schools. At Major Bay Primary (now Willard Wheatley), we didn’t have uniforms, so we would use white t-shirts with our name and school written on them in marker. As kids, softball was the primary sport, and we played every chance we got.

Further, the school teams were the feeder/minor league of sorts for the league teams, keeping the sport solid and vibrant.

Reaching back into the old memory bank, I remember Major Bay Primary playing against a town team. Either Joseph “Scruff” Percival or Austin Todman was catching for the town team, and I galloped towards home plate, trying to score. A rough tag was applied at the plate, throwing me towards the trees behind the plate, or so Mr. Todman and Butchie Eddy narrate the story. Oh, the good old, fun days of softball.

Stars players

Mario “Black” Connor, brother of Elmo “Equalizer” Connor, was the best overall complete player in VI softball history. He was a genuine all-rounder: He hit, pitched, and fielded equally well, and played every position skilfully.

Other top tier players include Aston “Flag” Barronville (who effectively made the transition from cricket to softball), David “Jacky” Todman (who completed the same transition), Rufus “Hook” Scatliffe, Irvin “Fletcher” Scatfliffe, Ishmael Scatliffe, Rupert Smith, Elton “Elibit” Smith, Elmo “Equalizer” Connor, James “Butchie” Eddy, Rene “Panchie” Julius, Eric “Hippie” Matthias, Raymundo “Mundo” Boynes, Clinton “Butch” Walters, Jerome “Lolla” Parson, Edwin “Boss” Hodge, Freddy “Jerado” Matthias, Nichol Rhymer, Roy “Panhandle” Hill, Dolph Cline, Glen Industrious, Mac Hodge, Roy “Picko” Pickering, Valence “Mantle” Malone, Rufus “Sleepy” Malone, Marvin Malone (who made the transition from cricket to softball), Elroy Franklyn, Clement “Tommy” Turnbull, Ralston “Rabbit” Daly (popularised the “in-shoot” pitch), Frank Daly, David “Flopper” Matthias, the Mercer brothers (Charles, Sam, Raymond “Mahassa,” and James “Hanbrook”), Edward “Batman” Francis, Bert “Big Man” Henley, Kermit “Web” Frett, Nolan “Dickie” Davies, Neville “Sheep” Smith, Allen “Woodrow” Smith, Raymond “Jackson” Smith, Sylvester “Bucker” Johnson, Ely Henley and Elton “Uppy” Leonard.

Female players of note included Doris “Dopu” Scatliffe, Eda Ham, Eva Simmonds, Lydia Pickering, Leola Todman, Ivana Monsanto, Bernice Smith, Gracie Hodge, Jennifer “Mela” Johnson, Patsy Thompson, Adina Nibbs, Jelisha Potter, Che’Vaunne Richardson, Bria Smith, Leonel George, Dorothy Durante, Kennisha Powell, and Pearline Scatliffe-Leonard.

This list is incomplete and may create some active discussion and controversy regarding who was included or left off. It is open for debate. It is important to note that women have had the same passion for the game as men.

Executives

Moreover, the following are just a few of the important game executives. Leading the pack is E. Walwyn “GM” Brewley, after whom the Road Town softball facility is named. He dedicated more than 40 years to softball as a player, statistician, official scorer, announcer, treasurer, vice-president, and VI Amateur Softball Association president. The International Softball Association inducted him into its hall of fame for his contributions to developing softball in the VI. Further, as the VI softball president, he was ably supported by Eileene “Ms. P” Parsons and Juliette Penn, among others. Ms. P, a cultural icon, is also a deep repository of VI softball information. Further, displaying exemplary leadership, the GM continued to serve as chief cook and bottle washer for softball even while serving as a legislator, minister of communications and works, and opposition leader.

Baseball in the VI

VI residents played baseball at a relatively low level. Nonetheless, baseball was a popular sport. Most Virgin Islanders were either a Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees fan (I was a Dodgers fan). There were a few exceptions, such as Walford “Mets” Hodge (NY Mets); Vincent “Old Father” O’Neal (San Francisco Giants); and Rundell “Skin Back” Hunt (Atlanta Braves).

During the Major League Baseball regular season, All-Star Game and World Series, every manjack had a transistor plastered to his or her ear enjoying the baseball commentary. The sweet commentary could be heard pouring out from every nook and cranny of homes, the ballpark, bars, domino tables, under trees, boats and so on.

The game was so popular that children played a game with baseball cards. For example, players held a card about three to four feet above a wall or tree and dropped it, and if dropped on another card, you won that card. The serious collectors didn’t use the cards of superstar players in the game; players cherished these cards.

Stars of the game included Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Willie Davis, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Juan Marichal, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron, Rickey Henderson, Elston Howard, John Roseboro, Dave Winfield and so on. I’m confident and convinced that given the demonstrated talent, skill, and prowess in softball and with training and the opportunity, many VI residents would have had successful careers in Major League Baseball.

Rise and decline

Softball burst onto the VI scene around the mid-1950s. As noted earlier, VI residents developed an immediate passion for the game. With little formal instruction and sheer talent, skill and perseverance, VI players played with a flair and took to softball like ducks to water. They were naturals. Consequently, the players and the game grew to a highly competitive level. Mr. Brewley — the battle-hardened voice of all things softball in the VI and a lived, walking encyclopaedia of VI softball players and stats — indicated that the VI, though small, was a force in the Caribbean and Central American regions and beyond. Cuba was the toughest competition in the region for the VI.

The VI placed 12th in the ISF Men’s World Championship in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1988. It played Cuba in the 1987 Pan Am Games for the bronze medal and lost 4-3.

Nonetheless, despite the VI’s peak, its progress has dropped precipitously in recent times. The sport is now dying on the vine with a slight pulse. And without urgent action, softball will die a painful death due to neglect.

Contributing factors

What are some of the contributing factors to the steep decline? From my vantage point, they include the following:

  1. a) centralising the game in Road Town, reducing village engagement and participation;
  2. b) competition from other sports like basketball for talent from an already small and limited talent pool;
  3. c) the decline of softball in primary and secondary schools;
  4. d) the lack of a structured and reliable feeder system for a higher amateur softball league;
  5. e) a declining pitching reservoir due to older pitchers retiring, some top pitchers emigrating, and a lack of effective tutoring mechanisms for potential, interested pitchers; and
  6. f) public underfunding for upgrading and modernising facilities.

Revitalising the sport

Softball rocketed to the top in the past and can do so again. Indeed, it can become the de jure, not just the de facto, national sport. The following are some suggestions for revitalising and breathing life back into the sport.

  1. a) government committing and allocating appropriate funding to invest in modernising softball fields across the territory;
  2. b) decentralising the sport from its current centralisation in Road Town and siting it in villages to the maximum extent possible and practical;
  3. c) participating in more local, regional and international tournaments;
  4. d) engaging more public participation in the sport;
  5. e) recruiting former players participating in the game;
  6. f) constructing and maintaining quality facilities on sister islands;
  7. g) increasing the number of leagues and tournaments;
  8. h) recruiting local and external experts to conduct training on softball fundamentals, such as pitching, hitting, fielding and so on;
  9. h) establishing a hall of fame;
  10. i) placing softball back in primary and secondary schools;
  11. j) encouraging and incentivising employers to compensate employees while engaged with the national team;
  12. k) exploring health insurance opportunities for players engaged in official league play and with the national team;
  13. l) recognising, rewarding and celebrating the national team;
  14. m) establishing Little League (B-League) as a feeder for the A-League;
  15. n) establishing a senior league for ages 55-plus; and
  16. o) establishing a public education and outreach programme.

 

Investment

Moreover, if the VI wants to be world-class and brag about top-tier competitive softball at a high level, it must act, look, behave and invest in being world-class by investing in world-class, state-of-the-art facilities. In large, advanced countries, sports are, for the most part, the province of the private sector. However, the VI is a small developing territory, and government must be the fulcrum in revitalising softball. The VI boasts of having a $1 billion gross domestic product and an operations and maintenance budget of around $400 million, so surely it can effectively afford to invest in constructing, operating and maintaining world-class softball facilities.

Given the current makeup of the House of Assembly (where many members now have a softball pedigree), many residents were giddy about softball getting more attention, support, and a strong resource shot in the arm. However, that ship has not sailed, so softball supporters are hopeful.

The VI is a small fry in the softball universe, but it can be a considerable force to reckon with, as it proved in the past. And with robust planning, it can rebound to its past glory, swimming with big fish in the softball ocean. The big question is if the decline of softball is symbolic of what is on the horizon for the VI ?

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How to Avoid These 6 Common Groundskeeping Mistakes !

Jun 4, 2021 · Paul Zwaska

Harness the assets that you have…
Coaches and volunteers, God love ’em. The games of baseball and softball usually can’t go on without these dedicated people who are there to either teach or just help out. Most are genuinely trying hard to do the right thing; others are just there to fill a void. It is no wonder that sports field managers cringe when they find out that the coaches and volunteers worked together to get a game in after a rain event. Instead of throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever it takes to get your game in, consider the consequences to the quality of the field surface, those who must fix it, and the other teams that are affected by your actions.

So, let’s look at some of the most common groundskeeping mistakes committed by those with good intentions, but mistakes that nonetheless create undesirable, or even detrimental, results.

COMMON MISTAKE 1: Using a broom or squeegee to push standing water off your infield skin.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: Infield soil and topdressing are picked up along with the water and pushed off into the lip. This ends up building the lip higher, creating a natural dam, and also making the low spot, where the water collected, lower due to infield material being pushed out along with the water.

THE CORRECT ACTION: Use a puddle pump or Beacon Puddle Sponges to suck up and remove excess freestanding water in the low spots.

COMMON MISTAKE 2: Using excessive amounts of drying agent.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: The only thing this does is waste large dollar amounts of drying agent to get games played. Excess drying agent remains on the field afterward, which can increase the speed of the field drying, but it can also help store more water at the surface in a rain event as the calcined clay drying agent gorges itself with water. This may actually slow the drying process if too much is sitting on the surface. On a field without a water source, you can actually suffer from the field getting too dry and hard as the calcined clay sucks every bit of moisture out of the infield skin.

THE CORRECT ACTION: If you walk on an infield and it is soft enough that your feet sink, it is too soft to play on. Incredible amounts of damage can occur on a ballfield when it is played on when the infield skin is too soft. Let Mother Nature do her evaporative magic first. Once the field is stable enough to walk on, then you can work to dry the low spots by removing the freestanding water first. Only then should you use drying agent to finish the drying process and it will take much less material to do so.

COMMON MISTAKE 3: Dragging an infield without removing bases, then pulling a drag right over the top of them.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: Infield soil builds up around the bases slowly burying them and making them harder to remove. This also destroys the consistency of the surface grade across the infield. This is just plain lazy.

THE CORRECT ACTION: Remove the bases and place in dugouts. Install base plugs in base anchors before dragging infield. Cut down any high areas under or around bases with an iron rake or aluminum field rake.

COMMON MISTAKE 4: Dragging infield material into the turf edges.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: When dragging the infield, if the drag wanders onto the turf edges, it deposits infield soil and topdressing into the turf edges which is then glued in by rainfall and irrigation cycles, unless cleaned out fairly soon afterwards. As this material builds up in the turf, it creates a lip which becomes a natural dam impeding the free flow of rainfall off the playing surface.

THE CORRECT ACTION: Stay a minimum of 6 inches away from the edge of the infield skin where it meets the turf. This will help to reduce the incidence of lip build-up. Additionally, use a push broom, leaf rake, backpack blower, yard vacuum or power broom to pull loose material out of the turf edges after you drag the skin area.

COMMON MISTAKE 5: Packing dry mound spoils back into the wear holes on the mound slope.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: This is basically wasted effort, pure and simple. Water and clay are the glue that bind a soil together. Without those, no binding will take place, no matter how hard you pulverize and pound the old clay that has been kicked out of the wear areas. Additionally, if you pull the old clay laying on the surface of the mound back into place, it undoubtedly has also been contaminated with other materials, like topdressing or infield soil, which drastically reduce the binding power of the used material.

THE CORRECT ACTION: The only way to patch a clay area that produces an effectively sturdy and stable patch is by using fresh new clay and water. The process is as follows:

Sweep all loose material away from the wear holes.
Use water to adequately moisten the sides and bottom of the holes. Allow some time for the water to absorb into the established clay.
Add fresh clean clay to the wear areas and tamp into place. Level as needed.
Sprinkle some water over the entire surface of the patch.
Pull old topdressing and other material back over patch and finish groom.
COMMON MISTAKE 6: Not using tarps on the clay areas on the mound and home plate at the end of the day.
UNDESIRABLE RESULT: The clay areas are left open to the atmosphere where evaporation will pull the moisture out of the mound and batter’s box clay. Without the moisture in the clay, it fractures and chunks out of those areas very easily, drastically reducing its effectiveness of providing proper footing for a pitcher or hitter.

THE CORRECT ACTION: If area tarps are available, place the mound and plate tarps on whenever you finish a game or practice and no one else is around to use the field. It is always important to minimize evaporation on the clay whenever possible. BONUS: If water is available, add some water to the clay areas on the mound and batter’s box to replace what Mother Nature evaporated during the time you were using the field. Just don’t overdo it.

GIVE COACHES & VOLUNTEERS SOME TRAINING !
To help avoid these common groundskeeping mistakes, coaches and volunteers should only perform minimal work on a field — unless they have received some training. An excellent resource for basic game day groundskeeping skills is available through Beacon Athletics.

Beacon’s online training at Groundskeeper University is totally FREE and offers 8 modules covering the basics of ballfield maintenance, teaching the tried & true best practices. The training is geared toward coaches, volunteers, summer help or new grounds crew members — but, it is also an excellent refresher for experienced groundskeepers. Users signup for a free account (if you are a registered Beacon customer your BeaconAthletics.com login will work) and can track their progress as they finish the modules and lessons. In the end, you can take the final exam to gain certification — but you must be a logged in user to track & store your progress. We highly recommend this free training service to get everyone on the same page, doing things the right way. Visit GroundskeeperU.com.

Sports Field Managers have a tough and challenging job to do, especially at schools and park and recs where their time is limited at each field they manage. I’ve never met a sports field manager who didn’t have incredible pride in the work they do, no matter the situation that gets handed to them. The hope is that coaches and volunteers respect what these field managers do in order for the rest of us to play our games, both competitive and recreational. We hope this post helps you avoid these most common mistakes.

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Paul Zwaska – 
A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul has been with Beacon for more than two decades. Among his many accomplishments he authored Groundskeeper University, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Paul continues to seek innovative ways to help groundskeepers.

  • ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

    * ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

    ( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

    1-800-622-7370

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    www.sadlersports.com/soda

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

    Since 1981”

    www.sportsplexoperators.com

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

    Since 1981”

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    [[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

    ** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

  • ** STAY HEALTHY **