The July sun was emitting so much heat that even the shaded stadium with massive fans spinning above us provided little comfort. Sweat was beading down my neck and adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I jumped up from the bleacher I was sitting on. A 2 RBI hit!!! YAAASSSS!! I was screaming right along with the rest of our half of the crowd. Woo Hoo!!!!! I sat back down, riveted on the next hitter. The thrill of the game. Later, between innings, I listened to Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheel on the stadium’s speaker. The lyrics are pretty cool when you’re sitting in a stadium, less than an hour from Raleigh, surrounded by tobacco fields that back up to a variety of trees including an abundance of Pine.
My oldest son made the all-star team in our region this summer which eventually took us to the Little League State Championship in Wilson, NC. Can I tell you that it was an experience? Because, it was. I need to be honest and tell you that I’m not big on sports, but I am big on my kids and what they’re into. Since all my boys are sports fanatics, I’ve had a lot of adapting to do.
I had heard the boys would be playing on an amazing field. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we left for the game. When we pulled into the parking lot at the J Burt Gillette Athletic Complex, I understood. The Southern Bank Stadium (Formerly The Heritage Bank Stadium), for a lack of better words, is amazing. It was replicated from Wilson’s Fleming Stadium that was built in the 1930’s. The field is meticulously taken care of with sodded grass, the infield drug between every game, and freshly painted lines. Both dug outs are below field level and there are bull pens on both sides of the stadium. The grandstand has 2 front rows of flip down seats and bleachers fill the rest of the grandstands that can hold over 400 individuals. There are two massive fans that help move air on those stifling summer days. There was even a speedometer set up so they could flash the speed of the pitcher’s balls on the score board. The boys felt like real professionals playing on that field.
Something pretty cool that I noticed was the music they played over the sound system. A lot of it was North Carolina favorites like; Carolina by Eric Church, Parmalee’s Carolina, and James Taylor’s Carolina On My Mind, just to name a few.
Our guys played four games before they were eliminated and came in third place in the tournament. We weren’t there a full week, but the kids made memories that will last them a life time.