The Seminole Junior Warhawks are, front row, from left, A. Cannon, B. Stanley, A. Taylor and M. Sommer; center row, A. Conte, J. Leiser, A. Riancho, E. Conte, M. Henderson, G. Walker and L. Haney; back row, M. Maddle, Coach T. Sommer, Manager K. Grawcock, Coach J. Sommer, Coach M. Goodwin, Coach B.J. Haney and E. Godwin.
SEMINOLE – This story has taken a happy turn.
In mid-June the newspaper carried a story about the Seminole Junior Warhawks, an under-14 girls fastpitch softball team, trying to get to a “World Series” in northern Mississippi. They hoped to be the first Florida softball squad in their division to participate in the Dizzy Dean series event.
But the young people were staring at a huge financial mountain with a short amount of time. They needed about $16,000 for the trip, and were to leave in late July.
Last Wednesday evening, July 21, the team, coaches, and parents loaded their equipment and boarded a chartered bus for the 18-hour trip.
“We owe a huge thank-you to dozens of people in the community,” said Kim Grawcock, manager of the 13-member club made up of 9 to 14 year olds. “Many individuals and businesses came to our aid and we are now able to make this trip. We are really thrilled.”
Excitement was everywhere as the group boarded the chartered bus for the 18-hour trip. The Seminole team will be traveling the longest distance of anyone in their division. Their first-round opponent was not known as was to be determined by a drawing. After some Thursday and Friday practice time, the team was slated to play its first game Saturday.
Things looked bleak as recently as a few days before the scheduled trip. But coaches and parents began calling area businesses and individuals, asking for help. Funds slowly came in, some contributions of $20, some $100, and more. A late-June golf tournament also brought money in. Several businesses signed on as sponsors. A local company called Champion Child helped with a large amount.
The Dizzy Dean program offers competition in baseball and softball in different age groups. It is more well known in several other southern states and officials hope to see it grow in Florida. The tournaments are being held at fields in Southaven, Miss.
“Many people have helped make this trip possible,” said Grawcock. “The girls have been great, not complaining when we decided to save money by putting more in each motel room. We have been able to cut some expenses so we didn’t need to raise as much money. My husband, Sam, has been great, helping in many ways.”
As the girls boarded the bus, each was presented with a new batting helmet and bat bag. They had also received new uniforms. It was definitely a “first-class” group.