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An editorial: Why city ball matters

BY BRUCE BRANUM

The Greenville Standard

 

After being asked out of so called coaching retirement last year to help the Greenville Parks and Recreation Department, I found myself in remembrance of the years I spent playing mite league football, and playing and coaching Dixie baseball teams in the City of Greenville leagues.

I played in city league from the time I was around eight until fourteen years old. Afterwards, some 23 years later, I coached my son for six years in Dixie baseball.

I still see the same type of personal relationships being developed with players and parents even after some 50 years of playing and coaching.

In the past two years, I have coached children and grandchildren of former teammates and players from older days.

The friendships and memories gained have been invaluable for the formation of both working and friend relationships later in life.

It really hasn’t changed. And that is a good thing.

This year, I had the opportunity to head coach the Greenville Dixie Debs softball team to the state championship and then to capture the runner-up spot in the Dixie softball World Series.

The players bonded early and you could it see in their actions of affection, consolance, and praise of teammates that they were genuinely concerned.

Part of city ball that makes it special is that players have to learn to form new relationships from people of assorted backgrounds; they can’t just be comfortable with their school friends/players.

Another part which is special, is that players are guaranteed playing time. For some it may only be a couple of innings, but they have an opportunity.

From personal experience, I have known quite a few who grew confidence in their abilities just from that short bit of playing time and went on to be All Stars themselves in sports or life.

Travel ball has definitely hurt city leagues around the country.

I know many who think travel ball is the best possible way to develop skills, experience and have their child/player exposed to colleges.

And as such, they have left city leagues behind because they think the talent is better in travel ball.

Some have other reasons, which is unfortunate.

If you are parent, guardian, or grandparent of a child who wants to play sports, city leagues offer the cheapest bang for your buck.

There is minimal travel and cost as compared with travel ball. On game nights you experience the comradery of old and new friends and you can celebrate in the success of all players, even if they may be on another team.

A night spent at a Greenville ball park is a memory for a lifetime.

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