Take me out to the ballgame, CHS style
There are few things more representative of spring than baseball (or softball)…allergies withstanding. If you have ever attended a Greenville Drive, Columbia Fireflies, USC Gamecocks, or Clemson Tiger game, you know the the time-honored, Harry Caray-inspired ritual around the 7th Inning Stretch…the launch into the old song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” You know it…so sing along…
“Take me out to the ball game // Take me out with the crowd…”
You know the associated sights, smells, and sounds of a baseball or softball game. But did you know that all those same sights, smells, and sounds are only a stone’s throw away…at our very own new CHS baseball and softball facility.
Thanks to the District 56 Board of Trustees, Dr. David Barnes, Dr. David Pitts, and Ms. Nickie Templeton, we now have a complex that is the envy of 3A schools across the state. Not only is the site located on the campus of the high school and no longer at The Sponge (the euphemism for the old location) but the site is beautifully terraced with a dual layer approach (where you can watch on the hill if you are so inclined).
Thanks in large part to the CHS Booster Club, under the very capable direction of Buddy Bridges, our own high school team’s have the exact same environment as the larger, more famous ones mentioned in the second sentence.
Did you know the CHS Booster Club supported the purchase of a first-rate speaker system for both teams’ fields? Over six thousand dollars of the Booster Club’s money went to the speakers and tie-in with the press boxes’ computer systems.
Did you know our players have their own, individual highlight songs when they come to the plate to bat?
“Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks // I don't care if I never get back…”
Did you know you can get Wilson’s hot dogs and Zaxby’s chicken sandwiches at the concession stand? Now that we have a new baseball and softball complex, the concession stand is chocked full of treats—sweet and salty. Ms. Karen Childress, Ms. Lindy McKinney, and Ms. Cindy Jacobs are just three of the faces you might see serving these treats to hungry fans.
Not only that but we have bathrooms where you don’t have to walk a country mile to get to. Anyone who remembers the old softball field knows the trek it took to get to the bathrooms under the bleachers at Wilder Stadium. Not anymore!
“Let me root, root, root for the home team // If they don't win it's a shame…”
Did you know that Mr. Buddy Bridges is the passionate voice of the Red Devils in the press box? I dare say Buddy’s call of the game takes a back seat to no one…not Harry Caray, Vin Scully, or even the famed Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto.
“Aahh…For it's one, two, three strikes you're out // At the old ball game!”
The most important part of the entire experience is the facility is for the students. Although our teams give 100% each and every game, winning isn’t the only thing. What is more important than the score in the game is the fact that adults and classmates, elementary students and former players support the teams.
It goes without saying sports and other endeavors are very important in the lives of our children. Students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to graduate from high school than those who don’t. Why? Investment.
Both students and adults alike invest in the tradition of CHS Athletics but that tradition is merely an outtake of a community’s concern for its own. My wife, Terri, has said to me (as an outsider looking in) that Clinton is the most competitive place she has ever seen in her life. (Trust me; that is a good thing!) She marvels at the efforts of the students – whether in academic, fine arts, or athletic competitions – and the nurture and support of the community.
In this very same spirit, our CHS Athletic Booster Club is the foundation upon which our athletic accomplishments are built. Persons like Mr. Louie Webb, Mr. Jimmy Webb, and now Mr. Buddy Bridges are the touchstones of opportunity for our students.
This is why we want first-rate facilities for our students both in the classrooms and at the schools and in our various competition venues. This is why Mr. Bridges announces games with a passion…because it matters to the students…they are somebody…there are the continuation of the legacy of the great teams and players from the past.
I’ve asked a lot of rhetorical questions in this article but I close with just one more. Have you attended a CHS varsity, JV, or C-team baseball or softball game this year?
If you answered “No,” I urge you to go and give it a try. You might just find a renewed passion for the great American pastime!
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens County School District 56.)