By Annie Rigby
Yes, Sportourism is a new term used for the Loris Recreation Department that is now called the Loris Sports Complex for baseball and softball tournaments.
On Saturday, Feb. 22, beginning at 11 a.m. the ballpark came to life with 12 softball teams arriving with coaches, family and local residents excited to see tournaments begin in Loris.
Each age group played two games each on three fields. The 10U teams are Coastal Crush of Loris, Diamond Cutters from Leland, N.C., East Coast Lady Snipers of Nichols, Carolina Wildcats from Wilmington, N.C., and Carolina Elite SC of Marion. The 12U teams, Intensity of Loris, Darlington Ice of Darlington and Crush-12U of Conway. The 14U teams are Carolina Sluggers of Aynor, Carolina Elite SC of Latta and Coastal Cyclones from Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C. All came with excitement for the first tournament at the Loris Sports Complex.
With three days of straight rain it took a team effort to hit the fields on Friday, Feb. 21, preparing them for Saturday morning. City crews, Von Williams and Kevon Drayton used a pump to drain the fields of excess water; Joey Letts and director Tom Cocke with the team of interns also worked to prep the park for the big event, more city workers were involved with the clean-up preparation but too many to list, both Cocke and Mayor Harrelson stated it was a team effort.
Top Gun Sports (TGS) charged a $7 parking fee, however, the teams were not charged an entry fee because it was Free Umpire Training which occurs twice before the season begins. Jeff Anderson, director of the South Carolina TGS, has been with the company for eight years. He said, “We were going to have 22 teams play today, some teams backed out because of the weather and they were unsure of the field conditions.” He continued, “The teams that cancelled were from other towns from North and South Carolina, they didn’t want to travel the distance to be turned away due to cancellation.” He also stated that teams cancelled due to players who were stricken with the flu. He has arranged for more teams to participate in the tournament on Saturday, March 7. Details for the tournament will be released the Wednesday before each tournament. He stated right now TGS and Loris are working with softball teams, baseball will follow later. Anderson is originally from Loris and reminisced the time he spent in the city and looks forward to returning with each tournament scheduled.
Volunteers worked the concession stands, Jan Vescovi and Jenna Reese, Amanda Causey, Brandon and Paiton Harrelson, Sara Robinson, Keith Massey and Dennis Drozdak worked quickly and with precision to supply burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, candy and soda to the many who lined up for lunch. The prices are reasonable and the menu is hung outside the concession stand. Massey and Harrelson monitored the grills set outside. To say the volunteers inside were busy is an understatement, they didn’t get a breath from one crowd gathering to another.
Cocke said, “I am very pleased with the success of our first sports tournament.” He said that Top Gun informed him that out of all the tournaments they had scheduled for this past weekend in North Carolina and South Carolina the Loris Recreation Department was the only sports complex that didn’t cancel their tournament due to field conditions. Cocke said, “That speaks volumes about the condition of our fields and it is a testament to our ability to go the extra mile by working endlessly to prepare the complex.” He continued, “Although this tournament was a small one containing only 12 teams, we still had 252 spectators, 48 coaches and 156 players attend.” The next tournament is scheduled for March 7 and the expectation is double the amount of teams and spectators at a minimum to attend.
Mayor Todd Harrelson said that there was so much activity the night before the tournaments cleaning up and assuring everything is in place for the tournament. He said, “My hat’s off to Tom, Brandon, Joey and everyone that had a part in preparing the fields and all of the areas for the softball tournaments Saturday.” He said Loris had a lot of rain and we were still playing on Saturday! He said, “So many people worked hard to make the tournament happen.” He stated that the city administrator was making hot dogs and monitoring the fries all day; it was a group effort that paid off. He said there were happy coaches, players and fans as the end result. Harrelson said, “I am so proud of everyone and everything; everyone I spoke with said they would spread the word about the sports complex and will be coming back to Loris ASAP.” He ended his statement as he ends the meetings he attends, “God is good.”
Visit the sports complex on Saturday, March 7, for the official ribbon cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. prior to the official start of the games to begin at 10 a.m.
The recreation department announces that the All Stars Basketball Tournament will begin on Saturday, Feb. 29, in Cheraw for the 7 and 8 year olds, Chesterfield for 9-10 year olds and Mullins for the 11-12 year olds. Check the Loris recreation website, https://www.lorisrec.com., for additional schedules and other news.
Baseball and softball registration is underway. The deadline is Friday, March 6, sign up on line or visit the recreation department and proof of age using a birth certificate is required. A coach meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 5. Parents of children outside of Loris have made requests to play ball at the recreation department. They will need a release from their parks and recreation department to be able to sign up.
Sportourism begins at Loris sports complex
By Annie Rigby