GARLAND — As more youngsters continue to enjoy softball in Garland, leauge officials are searching for older adults to join in on the fun too.
Wanda Johnson and Todd Marshall, committee members of the Garland Volunteer Softball League, made a presentation about the 2017 spring-summer season to town commissioners during a recent meeting. For 10 years, the sport disappeared in Garland, but returned in 2016. The committee was formed to revitalize the program.
More than 100 youths participated on nine teams last season. A total of 22 players were on two tee-ball teams. More than 50 players participated on four teams in the 6 to 9 age group. In the 10 to 15 age group, there were three teams and 42 players. There were also six adult teams. Johnson said the committee was excited about the numbers, which included many participants from outside Garland.
“They’re coming Elizabethtown, Harrells, Clinton, Salemburg, Roseboro,” Johnson said. “I just think it’s wonderful that in all of these surrounding towns, we have people coming that are having their children play in Garland.”
The fall season is scheduled to begin in early September and for the next period, Johnson said they would like to add a senior league to the mix.
“We were going to initially start it at age 50 and over,” she said. “But we had several people come to us and asked us if we can start it at age 40 and over, so that we can get more anticipation.”
The league is hoping to get at least two teams for the 40 and up group.
“Hopefully we can get more than that and these teams will just play on Friday nights for approximately six weeks,” she said.
On the financial side, the committee collected more than $14,000 at the end of the season. Johnson, who serves as the secretary and treasurer, presented details of the budget, which was near $1,000 at the beginning of the spring and summer season. Funds are used for advertisements, field striping, maintenance, umpires and payments for lights.
Johnson said she was happy to report that eight sponsors are continuing to show support through signs on the fence. The league also gained seven new sponsors, bringing the total to 15.
“We hope to have even more next season,” Johnson said. “But when you look at the renewed and even the new sponsorship, a lot of these are local businesses. We greatly appreciate our local businesses as well as businesses outside of town. These sign sponsorships really do give us the funds we need to continue this program.”
Mayor Winifred Murphy and the Garland Board of Commissioners received an appreciation plaque for their support of the program.
“On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, I thank you very much for all of the hard work that you’ve done,” Murphy said. “It’s made a tremendous difference in our community.”
During the season, Murphy mentioned how she could hear echoes from the field at her home. It’s a sound she enjoys hearing.
“I love it and I think everybody in the community loves it as well,” Murphy said.
Commissioner S.J. Smith and other commissioners applauded the work of the league leaders.
“We appreciate what you’ve done,” Smith said. “You’ve done a fine job.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.