People who dream of being journalists often picture themselves living a Woodward and Bernstein-esque life, exposing corruption and seeing their writing splashed across the front page of the New York Times. Rarely do 21-year-old journalism students envision themselves taking pictures at Little League opening day; I know I didn’t.
But here’s the thing about journalism: It isn’t a one-size-fits-all career. Some people love deep-dive investigative pieces (that’d be our reporter Ryan McGahan) while others love writing about food (that’d be Morgan Banno or Jen Ring). Still others, despite joking with their boss that they did not go to college to take pictures of kids playing T-Ball, find themselves utterly charmed by the concentration with which a four-year-old can swing at a ball that isn’t even moving.
I loved all three when I wrote for the Gabber, but it was when I bought a house around the corner from the ballfield that I started to understand that Little League epitomizes Gulfport. It’s neighbors and community and small-town fun, and it’s not just for parents and players. When we walk the dogs in the evening or sit on the porch with a cocktail, the sounds of kids playing ball and cheering each other on reminds us we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
For the kids playing – albeit on fewer teams this year – the new season brings with it new uniforms, new skills to master and a chance to see old friends. Especially for kids who attend virtual school, Little League offers them a chance to learn what it means to be part of a team, and to develop social skills.
Little League means something different to us. It’s the heart of who we are and the best things we believe about Gulfport.
This Saturday, please join us at Gulfport Little League’s opening day ceremonies. They’ll have free food (hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and soft drinks) for everyone. Yes, everyone – not just players or parents or coaches, but every person who wants to celebrate what it means to be part of our community.
Think about how great those kids will feel to see those bleachers filled (socially distanced, of course) with smiling faces. Bring a blanket and spread out along the fence to enjoy lunch. Close your eyes and listen to people cheering a four-year-old to first base, or shouting when a player hits her first home run.
That’s the sound of Gulfport.