The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 23, 2013

A Rich Kelly column: Volunteers are the ones who make tournament work

By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “volunteer?” Oh, there are those from Tennessee who think it refers to their state and university. But think about it for a short while.

Name a public event that can run without having a whole bunch of unpaid volunteers doing the work to pull it all off so fans can enjoy what it is they are volunteering for.

Unless you were out of town or oblivious to your surrournds, you may have noticed the massive storm that blew through the area late Friday night through early Saturday morning.

Anything going on over the weekend needed a lot of people to step up. Such was the case with the Ashtabula Little League folks hosting the 11-12 year old State Baseball Tournament at Cederquist Park. The requirements are endless; the problems natural.

For an outdoor event, with teams coming from each district of Little League in the state of Ohio, lasting impressions of a positive nature are a must to pull it all off. With a weather event such as the one that came through, tournament director Frank Cole knew it would take a major effort to make both Tulino and Nappi Fields playable.

There are 11 teams represented for the tourney. They are, with district in parentheses, Ashtabula (1), Boardman (2), Avon (3), Dover Gray (4), Guernsey (5), New Albany (6), Bellevue (7), Washington Courthouse (8), Hamilton (9), Maumee (10), and Wheelersburg (11).

Families, players, friends from all the teams come in as tourists, looking to have some fun between games at Cederquist. Imagine, if you can, what will happen for everybody if the fields are not playable after heavy rains.

Trouble.

Cole and company had people from throughout the community and organization step up, starting well before 7 a.m. Saturday morning. There was a crowd of over 35 workers clomping around in boots and old sneakers working to get Tulino Field ready as close to scheduled play time as possible.

According to Tony Tulino, who recently was honored for his 50 years of volunteering for local Little Leagues, the drainage system is better for Tulino Field than it is for Nappi.

Still, the crews doing all the things needed had Tulino Field ready only an hour and a half later than planned. Nappi Field took a bit more effort, but the games were played successfully, with a trio going on Tulino and another on Nappi later in the day.

Fortunately, high temperatures and a nice breeze helped out with the conditions.

“The weather really hit hard in the middle of the night,” Cole said. “These people have been stepping up all season getting this place ready for games, so it’s no shocker that they are all here today as well for us.”

Maybe the biggest point is letting people know who is helping to keep this great program of alive and better each year in Ashtabula. With a sparkling new building featuring concessions and restrooms, things are really on solid ground, but it didn’t happen without help.

The following is a list of those who helped contribute in the volunteer efforts:

Lew Smith, Mike Katon, Frank Cole, Todd Tulino, Lisa Boomhower, Jim Kingston, Jeff Bleil, Mark Shorts, Curtis Griffith, Les Anderson, Ron Siebeneck, Gary Novak, Jason Rice, Donna Kingston, Jared Kingston, Brianna Kingston, Grant Kingston, Jake Bleil, Josh Bleil, Joey Boomhower, Wendy Siebeneck, Zoe Campbell, Nancy Amidon, Bill Amidon, Kelsey  Amidon, Craig Campbell, Mike Czup, Boert Cole, Brian Maunus, Jason Hlavtur, Patty Cole, Crystal Cole, Robin Mayle, Tami Wisnyai, and Tammy Cole.

These are neighbors and friends trying to make a difference in the community with their efforts. No matter the event, there are others who are also able to share skills, talents, and just hard work to be a positive difference.

The aforementioned citizens have put in a load of time to turn Cederquist Park into a first class place for baseball. They have represented Ashtabula city and county with pride, and those from out of town who are here for the tournament have all talked about what a great job this group of volunteers did to make the fields and grounds beautiful.

A job well done, with pride and dignity, something we all should applaud and look into doing elsewhere ourselves.

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson. Reach him a heavensthunder@centurylink.net.