Sophia Kelly is a A-1 sports fan

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2001

Features Editor

Some people stand out in a crowd. Sophia Kelly stands up in a crowd.

Anyone who followed Dixie Angel softball in Troy this summer, knows Sophia. She’s the one who’s always standing, always chanting or singing or dancing or shouting words of encouragement to her team. As far as fans go, she is out-standing.

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"I bought a new chair to take to the ball field this summer, but I never sat in it," Mrs. Kelly said, laughing. "I feel like if I sit down, I let the girls down and I don’t ever want to do that. I always want them to know that I’m behind them and I always want to be positive. As parents – as adults -we have to remember what the focus should be, and it’s the children – not the umpires or the coaches – it’s the children."

Children are foremost in Mrs. Kelly’s mind. She operates a day care facility in her home and she loves children and enjoys being around them and being an influence in their lives.

She has two daughters who played recreation softball this summer and she said wanted them to play to win every time they took the field, but she also wanted them to have fun.

"Just because you’re having fun doesn’t mean that you’re not doing everything you can to win," Mrs. Kelly said. "I believe children can play better when they’re having fun because it’s easier to focus. When children are angry and upset, it’s hard for them to focus and that makes it harder for them to play their best.

"Fans have an influence on the players. If the fans are angry and upset, that has a negative influence on the players. That’s why I think it’s so important for fans to stay positive. When I see my getting team getting down, I

try to do everything I can to pull them back up. That’s when I get my smiley face going."

Mrs. Kelly gave her daughters, Jazmine, 10, and Latesha, 9, a preseason pep talk to get them in the right frame of mind to play to win and for fun.

"I told them that in every game somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose," she said. "But when you do go down, go down knowing you did your best and then you can be proud even in a loss."

Jazmine was a member of the Dixie Angels tournament team that won the sub-district tournament and finished second in the district tournament.

"We played nine games and it takes a good team to go through nine games," Mrs. Kelly said. "The girls had hopes of winning the district and advancing and there were some heavy hearts after they lost to Enterprise Monday night. Jazmine had a long face and I told her that if she couldn’t lift herself up that I would do it for her."

Mrs. Kelly lifted her daughter on her shoulders and carried her from the field.

"This is the way we leave," she said with a big smile. "We leave lifted."

The team had planned to eat after the game. When the players saw the Enterprise team, that had just knocked them out of the tournament, at a fast food burger place, they wanted to stop there, too.

"They had a good time together and that’s what it’s all about," Mrs. Kelly said. "When the game is over, forget it and move on. Children have short memories and that’s good. Parents remember the losses much longer than the children. We need to move on, too. The Bible says we should be more like children and we really should."

Mrs. Kelly said children are her inspiration and they are the future of their community and the country.

"We should inspire them with positive attitudes," she said. "If we don’t, what will our future be like? If our children develop negative attitudes in sports, they will take those negative vibes with them to school and everywhere they go. Being positive in every situation you are in is very important.

" Of course, there will be times when mistakes are made, on the field and in life, but we have to show our children that we can put those mistakes behind, learn from them and move on to the next level. That way, we can always be lifted up. And, when our children can’t lift themselves up, we should be there to lift them up."