There was one other car in the parking lot on the newly completed side of the Delta Sportsplex on Sunday evening.
My wife and I took our two youngest children to shoot a model rocket there in the waning light so we could better see the fire from the rocket motor.
We parked in the flat gravel parking lot, walked across the soccer fields and set up the rocket launch pad on the far side.
I installed the rocket motor, connected the starter and backed away.
Our youngest son, Canon, pressed the fire button after a short count down. The rocket immediately leapt into the air and promptly disappeared in a puff of white smoke.
We searched the grounds at the Sportsplex and never found the rocket. Though I’m sure one of the many children who will be using these facilities in the coming weeks will find it or what’s left of it.
That these fields are now in constant use is a welcome change.
We watched for years as work plodded along to build the Sportsplex facilities.
Weather and dirt work, dirt work and weather, were the watchwords for construction of the ball fields.
As our children played baseball games on the bumpy old fields, we could only dream of the day when we’d be running around on the new facility just across the way.
Though its planned opening fanfare was hampered by weather, there’s that word again, the ball fields and participation this year have been a welcome and wonderful change.
The fields are in great condition and the games start on time.
My middle son, Shel, has now moved into the kid-pitch leagues. This is the toughest time for youth baseball player as strikes are rare and most runs are scored on passed-balls and wild pitches. Children who make it through this league with more hits than walks are aggressive players. Pitchers who throw strikes are at a premium.
We watch these games now in new bleachers with brilliant lighting for the night games. The concession stand is new and the bathrooms are clean.
We still need some grass to grow in between the fields, but this place is ready to go for baseball tournaments.
And that’s the point of the Sportsplex. While building this facility for use by local children was part of the deal, it’s not going to repay the investments made by all the folks who contributed with only local players.
Like all economic development programs, for it to really be a benefit to the area, we need people from outside of the community to use the facilities and leave their money behind in town.
While our experiences with the Sportplex have been positive so far, there is one gripe I would voice. Whoever laid out the position of the fields failed to account for when most of the games will be occurring and placed home plate and the pitcher on Guaranty Bank Field directly in line with the setting sun. Both batters and catchers are staring directly into the bright ball of flame as the pitcher delivers the ball.
Of course, the sun’s position changes over the seasons as does the weather.
I know most all baseball seasons start a bit earlier than we do here, but our rainy weather pattern almost makes me wish we started a bit later in the year.
Our son’s team only was able to hold a couple practice sessions due to the torrential downpours we saw this spring, but the team is playing well now in their third game.
And, like the Sportsplex, seeing improvement and growth over time is the best marker of success.
Hopefully we’ll soon see hundreds of folks not from Washington County running around the grounds of the Delta Sportsplex, and if any of the locals happen to find a model rocket on the soccer fields, please let me know.
Jon Alverson is proud to be publisher and editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. Write to him at email@example.com call him at 335-1155.