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Perry League fosters relationships

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By Yunus Brevik and Margi and Rob Gay

Elves must have visited Gaunt Park this week. The T-ball infield looked professionally maintained starkly different than last week’s muddy swamp. We send our gratitude to those elves.

The fresh infield was one of many reasons we had to be thankful this week. Many of our regular volunteers were unable to attend, and, in true Yellow Springs fashion, we had no trouble filling in the gaps. Beth Brevik, mother of Thea and River, 6 and 3, made the rounds before the game started and gathered the necessary willing hands. Luke Holtsberry, father of Sidney, 6, and Matt Raska, father of Calliope, 2, held down the first-base line and ensured our infielders always had balls to chase. Aimee Garcia, mother of Fiona, 7, enthusiastically guided children to first base and helped return bats when our equally enthusiastic hitters took bats with them. David Scott, father of Aiden, 6, kept our children safe in the on-deck area and even offered support with proper bat-holding and swinging techniques. Many other parents, grandparents and helpful adults were scattered throughout the infield and outfield.

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The families that join us for T-Ball are amazing. It’s wonderful to see the friendships that are nurtured at our Friday night games. If you were to put the game on pause at any point during the night you’d notice there are typically more adults than children present, most of whom are enjoying conversations along the foul line, typically sitting or standing and taking up all the space from behind home plate to well past third base and sometimes almost to West South College Street.

It’s not just the adults who use T-ball time for building relationships. We have many kids, sometimes upwards of half the kids, who come to games and have intentions besides batting or fielding. Jack Snyder, 3, and Levi Frank, 2, were two early arrivals who connected right away.

Their parents did, too. Although they’ve played in other games this season, neither made it to bat this game and yet seemed to enjoy the sand and chalk all night.

Beckett, 2, and dad Tristan Holyoke crouched down at the edge of the outfield observing the busy ball field while grandpa Andy watched. Beckett seemed a little uncertain about actually participating; observing was at his comfort level. Grandma Beth was in attendance and catching up with friends. T-Ball connections span the generations.

During the game there was an arch of children clusters from the third- to first-base lines, with another group just past the safety zone in the infield, and several groups scattered throughout the outfield. All children within reach of the infield had mounds and piles of sand and chalk. Several kids were filling up shirts with sand, then declaring, “I have a baby.” Others were baking cakes.

Some were making sculptures. Others were making clouds to run through. And others were picking up handfuls of sand and chalk and dumping it all over themselves. The field is a highly attractive play area. Hezzy Badger, 3, appeared as if he’d be first at bat, then never made an appearance at the tee; he became absorbed in other play for the duration of the game.

Leyna Badger, 8, and Clara, 8, played for a while, then took a break and wanted something to do. They were willing to help promote the cookout scheduled for July 29, and carried the donation jar. Leyna may have a future in marketing and sales as her efforts this night were highly successful.

Speaking of that donation jar, we appreciate the education we received from JayJay Burns, 6, before the game. She and mom Leah gave Coach Margi clarifying information about the Peppa Pig stuffed doll that resides in the jar. Turns out his name is George!

And the actual T-Ball game? Lovely as usual. Poppy and Winnie Anderson, 4 and 3, made their season debut. Welcome as well to John, 7, and Ellie, 5. Mateo was here for the first time this season, not his first time ever, and brought his signature energy while batting, fielding, and running around in the outfield. Mateo’s older brother Sebastian was present, though he’s now graduated to become a spectator.

Many other families came out in force tonight. Aria, Henry, and Elsie Johnson, 7, 5, and 3, all enjoyed turns at bat. Marty and Camilla Burns, 4 and 2, experienced success batting. Gretchen and Gillian Richards, 9 and 6, showcased their batting skills with solid hits. I’m not sure if they’re family, but Mahni made a debut appearance at bat, then spent most of the night tagging along with Calliope, 2, oftentimes seen side-by-side giggling under the bleachers.

Isabel Whitmore’s practice is paying off as she had a surprisingly good hit for a 2-year-old. Marco Moyo, who turned 5 the day before our game, was very serious during his many at-bats. Some of our T-ballers are determined to get that ball into the outfield. And many of them do. Which is why we use the Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) balls. Occasionally those line drives make contact with our kids or adults. At least two line drives tonight bounced into people’s legs, one into a child’s side, and yet another was soccer-style chest-trapped. All affected said they were fine. We want our games to be both fun and safe.

And fun it was, from start to finish. During our pregame warm up, kids were told to think of an animal that crawls, then crawl and make sounds. Meows, barks and moos were present, and one child said, “I’m a zebra.” That’s a first.

It should be noted that Easton Straw, 6, chose the Easton bat tonight, making him look very official as he sported a customized Perry League shirt. Shiloh Deal, 5, wore a necklace on the outside of her shirt: “That’s Rainbow Dash.” She said it was a lucky charm necklace. When asked if it would help give her powers with hitting she said, “I’m already magic.” Yes you are, and so is Yellow Springs Perry League T-ball, our all-volunteer program that is noncompetitive, free and open to children aged 2–9, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability. We have two more games this season. Our final game on July 29 will include trophies for all children and a cookout. We hope to see you around.


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