DOBSON — Copeland Crossfire Softball Coach Scotty Pardue and Copeland Youth Foundation Board of Directors President Chad Moore are spearheading a drive to improve the softball field at the elementary school by adding dugouts and replacing the outdated field lights.
The two coaches, who are products of the youth athletic program in the largely rural community, represent the time-honored small community tradition of pitching in for the greater good, what has become known as the practice of “paying it forward.”
There are no dugouts at the softball field, but the two men are seeking donations of money and materials to roof and build the dugouts. According to Moore, tin for the roofs has been donated and the Siloam Baptist Men’s Group has volunteered to provide the labor for the dugouts. He estimates the cost of materials for the 21-foot by eight and a half-foot dugouts at $1,000.
Pardue said last fall when he stepped into his coaching post, he had the idea of adding dugouts and gained the support of Surry County Schools Board Chairman Earlie Coe and the board to move forward with the project. He said previously, Tadd Noonkester, a former president of the Copeland Youth Foundation, also had laid important groundwork for field improvements. He was able to save time and money by getting permission from the board to use blueprints from dugouts at Surry Central as the design for the field near Copeland Elementary.
Things began to click when his father-in-law, Ray Rodgers, got him the support of the Siloam Baptist Men’s group, who have a longstanding tradition in the area of community support. Moore also credited the efforts of the youth foundation’s board of directors for helping the program.
“The youth is one area that had been overlooked. We took for granted someone would always be showing up to play I guess,” said Pardue. ” It’s sad to think about it, but sports is an important way to keep them (children) out of other things that would not be good for them.” Indeed, the 42-year-old remembered how sports at Copeland saved him from making some bad decisions. He said his daughter is now involved in sports at Central Middle School and his son is at Copeland.
“This (field) is our community center,” summarized Pardue. “We have a more difficult time here because we are rural. We do not have a lot of businesses close by that want to give us monetary support. Nothing against them, I understand spending the money where it gets seen the most and who’s going to see that out here. What happens is this area can get left out.” He said the Crossfire program has three teams, an 8 years and under, 10 years and under and 13 years and under.
Moore said the dugout project is just part of some ongoing efforts to improve and beautify both the softball and baseball fields. He said the lights for both fields are not working. He estimated they were installed at the fields in the late ’60s and parts and bulbs are no longer available for them. The two estimated that the cost of replacing the lights could range up to $25,000 and look forward to one day being able to play night games again. The lights are all on one switch and a new system could be put on separate switches to light only fields being used.
“It makes the schedule more difficult because we can’t play night games here currently,” said Moore. “The interest is here. We have 35 kids in softball this spring and had 43 last spring. It’s just hard to raise a lot of money around here. We are going to shed roof the dugouts on four-by-four posts like the high school.”
The two share many good memories of playing on the fields at Copeland and said they just want to leave the program with more than it had when they took over the program. Pardue said he particularly liked the way coaches in other sports locally are working together to accomplish things.
“It doesn’t matter matter if I have a kid in the basketball or softball or baseball program, what helps one also helps another. We are all working together,” said Pardue.
Crossfire player Maddie Taylor is an example of many of the children using the fields.
“I love softball,” said Taylor. “I really like being a pitcher. It gives me a chance to be in the middle of everything.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.