Youth softball takes spotlight for Russellville community discussion
Any successful sports program is built from the ground up, and the future of softball in Russellville was the topic of conversation at a community meeting at the RHS field house on Monday night.
Representatives from Russellville City Schools, the Russellville Parks and Recreation Department, travel softball and parents of young players all met and exchanged ideas in an effort to create a plan to increase interest in the youth program.
Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes, along with RHS varsity head coach Kathryn Montgomery, helped lead the meeting with a goal in mind of creating a much higher quality youth league program, and the group in attendance was searching for ways to create interest to draw more players to participate.
“I think we’ve got to make a commitment from parks and rec all the way up,” Grimes said. “Right now, parents have said they’ve chosen to go elsewhere, and we’ve got to renew our efforts, renew our communication to them, and make a commitment to them that we are going to work as a school system and work as a parks and rec (department) – that we are going to have a quality program (where) kids can get a great experience and get better because that is important for their future.
“We want to build a strong softball program from middle school to the varsity program,” Grimes added. “We want to win a state championship. That’s our goal; that’s Coach Montgomery’s goal; and we’ve got to start working now to build that in 6U all the way up to high school.”
Even though it is the offseason for the sport, Montgomery is working hard along with her coaching staff to build relationships within the community. A Princess Party took place after school Monday that served as a fundraiser for the Lady Golden Tigers.
“We started at 3:30 with almost 40 little girls who came over for Princess Day,” Montgomery said. “It was a great fundraiser. Our girls looked beautiful, and they had fun. The little girls were so excited, and we were looking for a way to obviously help our girls with some fundraising but also to get the little girls from RES and West involved.
“It’s great for them to get to know the girls on a personal level, and they get to see them dressed up, and they get to see their locker room and how awesome the facility that they get to work with is.”
Montgomery also shared some thoughts about the community meeting and the youth program. “It was an interest meeting for girls in elementary school up through sixth grade because we’re interested in revitalizing our rec league program,” she said. “We know that it needs work, and we know there’s effort being put into it. We would like to gather together and work as a team from the parks and rec side, from the high school side and from the parental side to join together and really have something that can be beneficial for the girls in our area.”
Preston King was in attendance to share ideas from the travel ball side of things. He said he knows what it takes to be successful and has been coaching youngsters for 16 years. He is currently coach of the Sharks team.
“It takes parents and it takes people getting out there and coming together and trusting each other,” he explained.
Since participation in youth sports can be costly for families with more than one child wishing to play, parks and rec programmer Carrie Dover shared that a discount is available for those families. Director Leamon Mosley was also at the meeting, and he said he and his staff are willing to do what they can to help the young athletes of Russellville.