Blue skies, high temps and broad smiles
More than 500 enthusiastic players and their parents were present at Lions Park for opening ceremonies for the Knik Little League held May 3 under bright blue skies and even brighter expectations for the summer.
League member Molly Carr pronounced the event and the overwhelming attendance “a perfect start to a nice summer.”
Following the presentation of colors by the Chugiak Naval JROTC, local Jensen Heagy sang the national anthem, then Carr led the players and coaches in recitation of the “Little League Pledge.”
The early season efforts of concession stand coordinator Jo Smith was lauded by Carr, and a broad base of participation for volunteer workers in the stand was encouraged.
Smith said that nearly $10,000 worth of equipment and supplies will be needed to replace those items damaged due to leaky conex containers adjacent to the snack shack.
“And that money comes from the proceeds at the snack shack,” said Carr.
Smith and Kathy Banfield are the heading up the staffing at the snack shack, and “we need volunteers,” said Smith.
17-year-old Chugiak High senior Brandon Neal was recognized with the “Volunteer of the Year” award, having coordinated a winter clinic series serving hundreds of areawide players in sessions held at Chugiak High and the Harry McDonald Memorial Center between January and March 2014.
Also recognized were members of the 2013 District I 11-year-old Baseball Champions with members Justin Neal, Riley Fugera, Jacob Kosinski, Spencer Breuting, Braden Olmstead, Christian Cambridge, Braden Shackelford, Ian Frizell, Jeffrey Harris and Billy Smith, along with Coaches Tracee Neal, Ryan Grey and Jeffrey Harris.
The nucleus of that team has won the district title for the last two years, and if they could win it all again this season would be eligible to advance of state for further end-of-season tournament action.
The ceremonies concluded with all-star pitcher Braden Shackelford throwing out the season’s first pitch to teammate and catcher Ian Frizelle.
After that, each of the league’s 20-plus teams was scheduled for an opening game Saturday afternoon.