Rotary Club supports benefits of sports

Published 8:50 pm Monday, March 9, 2015

The Western Branch Pony League baseball fields behind Chittum Elementary School in Western Branch could definitely use some TLC.

After a few days of snowmelt, the amount of water lying on the ground there Wednesday was striking.

There was so much water that, try as I might, I could not keep my socks dry.

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But I was there to report on a decision by the Rotary Club of Churchland to pump a sizable sum of money into the Western Branch Athletics Club facilities, and that’s good news.

Rotarians plan to support the club with $22,500 plus whatever in-kind donations and volunteer hours it can drum up. When the fill dirt and crush-and-run is brought in, the fields should become a lot more usable for Pony League players in the upcoming season.

The Rotary club’s support will also rehabilitate the clubhouse. When Jason Tone, president of the athletic club, showed me around the building, it was clear that it needs some fairly major work.

In fact, in the main room, Tone pointed out that a single working fluorescent light in the ceiling wasn’t a result of blown tubes not being replaced — it was the only light fixture still working.

Churchland Rotary’s support for this youth after-school sporting organization represents real grassroots community philanthropy. Nothing exemplifies this more than how the cause was discovered.

A co-chair of the project, Charles Powers, played ball at the facility as a youngster, and members of the Rotary club know people in the community whose kids play there.

Many of those kids live in North Suffolk — of the 600 children ages 4 to 14 his club serves, about 55 live in North Suffolk, Tone said.

Growing up (in Australia), I have fond memories of playing junior soccer, cricket, golf and tennis.

I never won too many medals, but it probably helped keep me out of trouble a little bit, burning off energy, and it also (hopefully) helped develop those qualities often associated with sports, like teamwork, perseverance and sportsmanship.

The proliferation of those qualities in the children of North Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth is essentially what the Rotary Club of Churchland will achieve through its support of the baseball facilities.

In years to come, that will pay dividends for those communities.