STEPPING UP — My Take: Washington Tarheel Tournament sets the standard

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2014



From one generation to another, baseball is an inherited tradition, bringing smiles to the faces of children and, subsequently, parents for over a hundred years.

With each passing generation, the love of the game has evoked the evolution of Little League, as the small town farm leagues of yesteryear have transformed into well-organized, regional leagues and divisions.

Little League Baseball turns 75 this season. Here in Beaufort County, the Washington Cal Ripken League and the Little Tarheel League continue to provide children of all ages the opportunity to become captivated by America’s pastime.

Of course, this would not be possible without parents’ willingness to give up their free time and energy to the cause. But in the end, it’s a sacrifice most are willing to make because, after all, their parents likely did the same.

All the pieces came together during last week’s Little Tarheel District 7 Tournament at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex. A baseball exhibition on steroids (no pun intended), forty-four all-star teams from all over eastern North Carolina ventured to Washington for a weeklong Tarheel League tournament, each of the five age groups producing a champion.

There were smiles, tears, cheers and celebration, traits commonly attributed to a successful Little League spectacle.

The City of Washington gave the community organizers, like league president Chip Edwards, the keys to pristinely maintained fields throughout the week, while parents traveled as far as two hours each day to bring their kids to the complex.

Umpires and announcers had to be assigned games. Concessions like the staple hotdog or the much-needed bottle of water had to be readily available to customers daily. And money had to be collected at the gate by volunteers to address the Tarheel League’s general operating costs, subsidize future entry fees and fund a scholarship program.

On Friday, thunderstorms gave parents a day off, but community organizers still needed to restructure game times.

Parents and organizers (or in some cases both) certainly breathed a sigh of relief once the final 8U championship trophy was handed out on Sunday. Deservedly so.

Little Washington is capable of hosting a big tournament, as the town’s consolidated, six-diamond complex is unlike any in the area.

Last week’s tournament not only earned thousands of dollars in revenue for the league, but also local businesses, filling restaurants and flooding downtown Washington. Large tournaments are typically a win-win situation for the local economy and the local league.

Sure, it’s by no means easy, and cooperation is needed from the city, parents and community organizers, but the Tarheel District 7 Tournament took a very large step in the right direction — a direction Washington has been traveling for quite some time now.