It's that time of the year again.
The smell of burgers on the grill. The sound of loud, excited fans. The sight of many fans in purple, or green or red or blue to support their favorite teams. Another Valley Baseball League season starts today, and like many in the area I'm looking forward to it.
Don't get me wrong, I love high school sports as much as anybody, but sometimes it's nice to have a break of the Virginia High School League and the local teams. Sort of like, how many of the teachers probably feel right about now.
We still have some high school teams playing, but once the season is over I will be more than ready for some Valley League.
The Valley League has been a staple of this area for many years, believe it or not even more than I've been on this Earth. I can remember hearing or reading about the Valley League in my youth. I don't remember going to games, though I might have, but certainly everyone knows about the league.
Over the years, the teams and the league has grown. Instead of just having New Market or Front Royal, we now have teams in Woodstock and Strasburg as well.
It's more of a fixture in this area than it's ever been and I think that's a very good thing.
When I was in college, or even just out of college, I used to go to Valley League games all the time with some of my friends, and it was always a good time. You can watch quality baseball on a nice, hot summer night. What can be better than that?
One of the things I've always loved about the Valley League is the atmosphere. You might see people you haven't seen in a while, or even meet new people. It's very laid back, and if you're into the 50/50 drawings the Valley League is your kind of place.
Once I became a reporter and began covering games it gave me a new perspective on things, especially all the work that's done behind the scenes.
However, at the end of the day the thing I love the most about the league is the same. The league reminds me of why I love this community so much. I love seeing the community come together as one in such a friendly environment. This is a small community and I think the league fits the community like a glove.
It's great seeing families coming out to the park each night to support the local teams. But it's also great to see so many people step up to be host families and just giving back to the community in any little way.
The players always talk about how friendly everyone is and how great the community is, and it's hard not to smile when I hear them say that.
Of course, the league is about the players and we've had some good ones over the years. I can remember seeing former Baltimore Orioles reliever Chris Ray and current New York Yankee Brett Gardner playing for the Rebels. You never know who might be the next Valley Leaguer to make it to the big time.
Anything can also happen during the season and in the postseason. It's typically very competitive, and you never know who will take the title once the playoffs start. Last year it appeared the Winchester Royals were head and shoulders above everyone else, but the Harrisonburg Turks surprised them in the finals.
I encourage everyone to take in a game or two this season if you get a chance. From the great food, to the great family atmosphere, the quality baseball players, the raffles and 50/50 drawings -- there's simply something for everyone in the Valley League.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org