Gold medals for all

Clarke’s Beach hands out medals for par­tic­i­pa­tion

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYNICHOLAS MERCER

Sports ban­quets usu­ally fo­cus on the play­ers who per­form the best dur­ing the sea­son. The Clarke’s Beach re­cre­ation com­mis­sion is tak­ing that no­tion, and turn­ing it on it’s ear.

Since the re-start of the com­mu­nity soft­ball pro­gram, the sports ban­quet, which was held Satur­day, Sept. 24, has been about the spirit of fair play and fun.

“Ev­ery­one gets a gold medal, no one is sin­gled out,” said com­mis­sion chair­per­son Alice Rus­sell.

Rus­sell said the com­mis­sion was pleased with the num­ber of chil­dren and par­ents who at­tended the ban­quet.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said.

Soft­ball re­vival

Soft­ball is on a steady climb in Clarke’s Beach. It might have some­thing to do with the pic­turesque scenery sur­round­ing the ball field — home plate looks out into the At­lantic Ocean — but it prob­a­bly has to do with the en­thu­si­asm en­velop­ing the pro­gram.

The num­ber of play­ers in the pro­gram is at an all-time high.

“ We had 70 kids play­ing soft­ball this sum­mer,” said Rus­sell.

This num­ber bodes well for the pro­gram as it moves for­ward.

Rus­sell said she hopes to see more kids pick­ing up a ball and a glove when next sum­mer rolls around.

But soft­ball has not al­ways ex­pe­ri­enced such suc­cess in the small com­mu­nity.

Up un­til seven years ago, Rus­sell ex­plained soft­ball was an ac­tiv­ity that had be­come ex­tinct.

Rus­sell said her chil­dren had grown up play­ing slo-pitch, so she was sur­prised to see it van­ish.

“There had al­ways been soft­ball in our area, and then it just cut off,” she said. “There was no re­cre­ation.”

That was un­til the town started the re­cre­ation com­mit­tee seven years ago. This re-birth was fol­lowed by the in­tro­duc­tion of a new soft­ball pro­gram.

“The first year we started we had 25 chil­dren play­ing soft­ball,” said Rus­sell. “That was in 2005.”

The pro­gram at­tracted 45 chil­dren last year, of­fer­ing soft­ball for chil­dren ages 4-7, 8-11 and “12-what­ever.”

Rus­sell said the younger ages are the groups show­ing the most prom­ise with a “ largest num­ber of kids added.”

This year, a rainy day pro­gram was added for times when the el­e­ments did not want to co-oper­ate.

The pro­gram ran five days-a-week, whereas soft­ball only ran for three days.

This was to give the kids some­thing to do on those days when play­ing out­side was not an op­tion, said Rus­sell.

“ The kids could come and do what­ever they wanted.”

Not alone

Rus­sell said she is not alone when it comes to main­tain­ing soft­ball in Clarke’s Beach.

She cited mem­bers of the re­cre­ation com­mis­sion, like Tanya New­man, as play­ing a huge part in the pro­gram.

Rus­sell praised New­man for her ded­i­ca­tion to the pro­gram. And Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore has been a “tremen­dous help,” ac­cord­ing to Rus­sell.

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