It’s been a strong couple of seasons for youth baseball across the board in Reidsville over the last several years. And thanks to the dedication of coaches, the Reidsville Recreation Department and city leadership, it looks like that trend will continue.
Haywood Cloud, Jr., assistant manager with the City of Reidsville, said one of the goals is to have everyone partner together to help raise the bar and give kids and citizens something to be proud of when it comes to youth athletics in the community.
“Under the city leadership of Preston Mitchell, when I was hired, we both recognized that in many places across North Carolina, the municipalities in youth sports are competing with the travel ball teams to get a lot of kids playing. We thought if we could partner our recreation with some of our travel ball teams, to get them to not only play travel ball, but also play in the city league as well, that it would benefit everyone,” Cloud said.
One of those partnerships established was with Scott Strader, who is a coach and organizer of the league where the Reidsville Luckies as well as the city All-Stars play.
Last year, the Luckies were ranked as one of the top youth programs in the country, and the success of that team got a lot of people in the community excited about the lofty possibilities of youth sports in the area.
The success of the Luckies proved to be contagious as the 8 and under coach-pitched Reidsville All-Stars finished in second place in the Dixie Youth North Carolina State Baseball Tournament that wrapped up on July 1. That finish earned them a spot in the Dixie Youth World Series which will be held in Ruston, Louisiana from July 26-30.
In addition, the 9 and 10 year old All-Star team finished in the top six out of a 32 team field in a state a kid-pitch tournament in Dunn last week, a remarkable achievement for a first year team.
Cloud said the partnership has not only been instrumental in showcasing the city, but it also is a tremendous boost for the youth and could very well set the tone for the rest of their lives.
“To have the community behind you just reinforces those things that your parents teach you. Qualities like discipline, intestinal fortitude and teamwork — those things are very, very important and I think that those are the things that we highlight in this partnership. A lot of our branding here is Team Reidsville. We are all a part of this – the city, the recreation department, the citizens, the businesses – these are partnerships that make this whole thing a team and community effort,” said Cloud.
Last week the All-Stars got the royal treatment from the city.
“We recognized our coach pitch team at our city council meeting last week and it was a packed house. The parents were cheering and everybody that was there was just so happy for the kids and our travel ball leagues. We are looking to do that in a couple of other areas as well with our football teams. We haven’t quite figured out the way to marry those entities yet. There are some things like insurance and equipment and a few more things that need to be ironed out, but we are definitely working to have that partnership ready soon as well,” said Cloud.
A former Winston-Salem State University football player, Cloud said it’s a project that is close to his heart because he remembers well how youth sports helped to shape his life.
“It is extremely important and I think the big thing I took from playing youth football and just playing youth sports in general is that there are so many things in sports that are the same things that you need in life. It teaches you to work hard, set goals and be a good teammate,” Cloud said.
For now the focus is on raising money through a variety of fundraisers for the 8 and under All-Stars. They have established a gofundme page on Facebook, so if you are interested in contributing search —Reidsville All-Stars take on the World Series.
“The community has really come together and the city is helping out with our transportation and the food and everything, but for rooms for the kids for a week, you are probably looking at $10,000 to $15,000 and we’ve got 12 kids. The city is buying all the uniforms in addition to everything else. They have really been behind Reidsville baseball and we are really grateful for all of the support from not only the city but the community as well,” said Strader.