Great entertainment

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

By Staff
for a good cause
Nine years ago, when Manuel Housley (who was a girls’ softball coach as well as a machining instructor at BCCC at that time) approached me about starting a girls’ softball tournament to honor the lifetime coaching career of Bobby Andrews and to raise money for girls attending Beaufort County Community College, I was dubious.
I had doubts about starting girls’ softball tournament because I once had been a first baseman for the Beaufort County Hospital women’s softball team, and even though it was a long time ago — OK, a really long time ago — I didn’t recall there being much of an audience aside from a handful of devoted family members (mostly children of the players), a few husbands or boyfriends and a stray dog or two from the neighborhood. What I didn’t know was how many women and girls Bobby Andrews had coached, nor did I know how devoted they are to him.
Girls’ and women’s softball in Washington have been shaped by many people, but most especially by Bobby Andrews. The first Bobby Andrews Tournament, held in 2000, raised more than $5,000 for scholarships. Today the Bobby Andrews Endowment at Beaufort County Community College has more than $32,000 invested and is yielding enough earnings to provide a full year of tuition for two students attending BCCC. Besides creating and building the endowment, the tournament itself has distributed more than $35,000 in additional scholarship funds. Little did I know how many lives Bobby Andrews has touched over his long career. Manuel Housley and his committee made a believer out of me.
This year, the seventh-annual Bobby Andrews Tournament will be held Aug. 7-10 at the Susie Gray McConnell Sports Complex in Washington. Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday night, Aug. 7, girls and young women from all over the state will vie for trophies in six different age categories. By Sunday, Aug. 10, the trophies will be awarded and hundreds of girls will return to their respective communities with a real sense of pride and accomplishment. And some young women will leave the tournament with the promise of a scholarship to further their education this fall.
And lest you think that girls can’t play an exciting game of ball, think again. These gals are talented and tough! They are well coached and serious about winning. You will not be disappointed if you come and watch them play.
The Washington Girls’ Softball League charges a small gate fee for each day of the tournament. It’s only $5 for anyone age 12 or more and only $2 for anyone ages 5-11. Aside from covering expenses, all of the proceeds from the entry fees, the gate and concessions are used to provide scholarships for young women who have played in the softball league.
Since the first Bobby Andrews Tournament, 21 young women have received scholarships to attend BCCC. Five of these young women have graduated with two-year degrees, and eight are currently enrolled at BCCC. New scholarship recipients will be announced during the opening ceremony Aug. 7. So, Bobby Andrews continues to shape the future of our community both on and off the ball field — and will continue to do so in perpetuity. What a great tribute to such a kind and giving man, and what an amazing feat by the many dedicated volunteers in the Washington Girls’ Softball League!