800-plus players lined up for opening day

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2000

All players, coaches are asked

to be on field at 7:30 a.m.

By Steven G. Watson

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Sports Editor

Late Thursday Troy Park and Recreation Director Dan Smith was putting the last coat of paint on Opening Day, literally.

Applying some paint here and mowing an outfield there has been the name of the game for Smith and his staff. He and assistant director Vaughn Daniels have had little else on their minds and with a little help from mother nature they will pull off yet another successful Opening Day – the 22nd since the whole thing started in 1978.

"They had probably less than 20 teams in all back then and know you can see how much it’s grown," Smith said.

There will be over 60 teams that take part in the annual event. Where each child will have their name called out and the gathering will without a doubt be the largest and most popular of its type in the area.

"That’s one thing about Troy, wether it be baseball or youth softball, for its youngsters it’s been very popular for a long time," Smith said. "We’ve grown from several hundred to having just over 1,000 kids participating this year. That’s real important to me in the sense that I believe personally that if children are participating in an organized activity that it will have a positive impact and influence on their lives."

That influence can only come with hard work, however, and nobody puts in more hours in preparation than Smith and his staff. Daniels feels says that it is all business right now leading up to the event, but once it’s done the sense of accomplishment can set in for the all involved.

"You start working hard in the fall to get ready for the spring and to see it actually go off and the kids happy, that’s the most rewarding part of it," Daniels said. "The maintenance crew as a whole and the people in the office both play huge roles. It’s been a huge undertaking for everyone. It’s actually looking better this year than it has in the past.

"We have 800-plus kids to have lined up, plus coaches and that takes a while," he continued. "You have all the kids and coaches there and we introduce them as well as the sponsor. It’s a thrill to the kids to be in such a large group and have their name called. They get a chance to be recognized kind of like an all-star game and they always enjoy it."

"I don’t know how many times I’ve had people come to me that have been to different tournaments out of town and come back and say the people in Troy don’t realize what they’ve got here," Smith said. "With the sportsplex and the other parks we want everything to be first class and professional."

Troy Park and Recreation is asking all those involved (coaches and players) to be at the Sportsplex at 7:30 a.m. to be lined up for the event. Most teams will begin their seasons later in the day at various locations.