Cold winds can’t stop Opening Day in Troy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 9, 2000

Sports Editor

What started out with dark threatening clouds turned into a cold, yet very successful Opening Day for the Troy Park and Recreation youth baseball and softball leagues.

Members of nine different leagues turned out early this morning at the Troy Sportsplex to take part in ceremonies no traditionally held for Opening Day and before things were over, the sun broke through and an ample schedule of youth softball and baseball games were allowed to get under way.

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Just another year in youth sports in what has become a tradition in Troy.

"It was a typical opening day in that everyone did their usual great job," Dixie Boys Tigers head coach Hank Sims said Saturday. "Troy is a baseball town and has been for a long time. The program that the city’s got here, they start them out young and by the time they get up to this 13 and 14 year old Dixie Boys it’s real competitive. The kids look forward to it and the parents look forward to it."

"We have other Rec sports, but baseball seems to bring out the masses," Dixie Youth Reds head coach David Helms said just before his team took the field Saturday. "Baseball in Troy is a family deal. These kids that are playing together now have been playing together since T-ball. The parents are the same parents who have been there. It’s just a family deal.

"We’ve all been practicing about four weeks so everybody is excited about opening day," Helms continued. " The first game is real exciting, but as much for the fans and the family as it is the players."

Family and friends braved the cold gust of wind to fill up the bleachers and empty spaces behind home plate at various parks across town. They wouldn’t miss it for the world many of them would say.

Connie Gillis, mother of John Gillis who plays for the Dixie Youth Pirates agrees. This is the time of year her children look forward to and a time when she can be proudest as a parent.

"It gives them something to do and keeps them busy," Gillis said. "It also teaches them a lot of discipline and responsibility.

"My son has been with the Pirates for the last three years and next year he moves up," she added. "Some of the guys have been on there together all three of these years. I think they enjoy that and become good friends."

Gillis also said that a day like this is better than being at Turner field to watch the Braves open up their season.

"You watch them and they make mistakes and errors, but they’re learning and that’s what’s fun," Gillis said. "The Braves, they’re grown men and know all that and don’t make mistakes, but you get more out of watching your own child play ball. He surprises me sometimes, they all do."

Duran Sherrer, a first-year coach in Troy for the Dixie youth Red Sox didn’t have much trouble keeping his team motivated, but might have had a little trouble keeping them focused.

"I’ve actually had to try and keep my kids away from the ball park until we play because they get worn out before they play," Sherrer said before his team faced off against the coach Helms and the Reds. "They want to see what everybody else has got, but I tell them you can only play them one game at a time."

Every year it’s a new taste in everyone’s mouth. Every team starts out at 0-0 with thoughts of a championship on their mind. While each of them will go in different directions after today one thing was unanimous, this is for the kids and it’s a great opportunity for all involved.