Thursday, March 27, 2014
Riverview Park was overrun with the sights and sounds of a new sports season on Saturday.
At the 19th annual Opening Day for Spring Sports, more than 1,000 kids began a new season of baseball, softball and tennis.
Along with the athletics, there was a craft vendor fair, musical entertainment and an inflatable bouncy house.
“Opening Day of Spring Sports is the biggest day we have of the year,” said John Felak, program coordinator for the City of North Augusta. “We have 1,000 kids in their first function of the year. They are playing in exhibition games, but they get their uniform on and get to get the ball rolling again. From now until the end of May, Riverview Park is going to be busy like this.”
The new sporting season allows the park to have constant activity with games and practices going on nearly every night.
Director of Parks and Leisure Services of North Augusta Rick Meyer called the day a “celebration” of spring sports.
“Opening Day is a tradition in North Augusta that has reached its 19th consecutive year at Riverview Park,” he said. “It's a celebration of spring, young athletes and family, and the popularity of spring sports in the community of North Augusta. It's about a love affair that America has with baseball, and now softball, that we want to share with a new generation. North Augusta is a special place, and Riverview Park is an absolute jewel in the community.”
To help begin the season, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., was on hand to give the first “play ball” of the year.
“There is so much therapy in seeing the smiles on the faces of beautiful young people and their families on a gorgeous spring day at Riverview Park,” Meyer said. “It is motivation to our entire staff to provide our people with top-notch programs and facilities. What a great crowd on hand for the ball games and the new SpringFest. We were thrilled to have Rep. Joe Wilson on hand to help us get the season off to a great start, play ball.”
At the vendor fair, attendees could hear live music on the stage and view arts and crafts from the 45 vendors.
“We had a great entertainment package going,” Felak said. “There were all kinds of things going on, from artwork, woodwork, picture opportunities with live animals, there's jewelry, there's an inflatable for the kids. It was a day designed for people to enjoy going to the ball games and then to spend an hour or two at the vendor fair. We had 45 vendors at the vendor fair.”
On the home field of the North Augusta High School baseball team, there was a Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run competition.
The competition allowed players from ages 7 to 14 a chance to qualify to compete in a national competition testing their baseball skills.
“The Major League Pitch, Hit & Run competition is new for us this year,” Felak said. “It's a qualifying spot, where kids ages 7 to 14 could qualify to go to the next level, which is in Augusta. We're hoping to get some qualifiers to move on.”
Buddy Satcher, the coordinator of the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run competition for Riverview Park, saw a great turnout of kids competing.
“We have a good number of kids coming over before and after their baseball and softball games,” he said. “This competition is comparable to the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition, it's just with Major League Baseball. North Augusta has a strong baseball tradition and produces some great athletes. I expect we'll have somebody from here make it to the next level.”
For more information on spring sports, call 803-441-4300.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.