Daily photo by John Godbey|
Blue seats with arm rests, concrete walkways and press boxes are parts of the new Calhoun Community College baseball and softball stadiums. The school's athletic programs were disbanned in 2001, but reinstated two years ago.
thriving in new parks
A proud tradition came to a screeching halt at Calhoun Community College in 2001.
That tradition happened to be school sports. Calhoun dropped its athletics program May 4, 2001.
Calhoun's softball and baseball fields developed an eerie permanent silence, as did recruiting and awarding scholarships to deserving players. Indeed, a big bite had been taken out of the North Alabama collegiate athletics scene.
For the next four years, the plight at Calhoun remained the same. Then in the summer of 2005, what was once only a glimmer of hope turned into that bright light at the end of the tunnel. The Calhoun softball and baseball programs were back in business with no signs of another cancellation in sight.
If anyone was in doubt about the stability of the programs, those doubters have a good reason to change their minds. Not only were both programs back in business, but now the softball and baseball teams have new stadiums in which to play — not just new fields, but new stadiums. The fact that Calhoun has new top-of-the-line facilities should quell any rumors that the programs are still on thin ice. As a matter of fact, it actually shows just how serious the revamped teams and administration are about the new additions to the school.
The Lady Warhawks' softball team finished its regular season last week. Calhoun, playing in its new stadium, sweeping a doubleheader
from Northwest-Shoals, 12-4 and 8-0.
Next on the softball team's agenda is postseason play. The Lady Warhawks (37-14) finished in second place in their division behind Wallace State-Hanceville.
They opened the Alabama Community College Conference tournament in Alabaster with two wins Saturday before falling to the losers' bracket with a Sunday loss.
The past two seasons, the Lady Warhawks have been forced to stray from campus to play home games.
They have played at Wilson Morgan, Decatur High and Athens State. Head coach Nancy Keenum said Decatur Parks and Recreation made her squad feel at home when playing at Wilson Morgan and Decatur High.
"The best way I can describe having our own stadium is to say it is absolutely wonderful — for all of us," Keenum said. "It will be sort of weird to hear someone say they are sitting in the grandstands."
Keenum said there is still more work to be done to the new complex.
"There is going to be a concession stand built between our field and the boys baseball field," Keenum said. "The concession stand will serve anybody and everybody, depending on who is playing.
"Having a new concession stand is nice, and hopefully it will be one of the things that attracts people to our home games. Having a nice place to play will hopefully bring out the Calhoun employees, students and parents to our games.
"Having a good home crowd is something that should help to motivate our players."
The Calhoun softball team has been able to play only two games this season at the new complex.
"It was something special for us to play our first game, but before the game was something else also," Keenum said. "Coach Myra King came and threw out the first pitch. I can't tell you how special that was. All in all, this has been a dream come true."
King coached Calhoun's slow-pitch softball during 1987-95.
Two years ago, the new program adopted fast-pitch softball.
Keenum gave credit to a lot of people for helping put the stadium together, including Brad Dean (built infield), J.W. Wilson (supervisor of maintenance), Archie Tennison (concrete and dugouts), Elton Romine (electricity and plumbing).
"There are so many people to thank, but these first four men have done and absolutely fantastic job," Keenum said. "They really went over and beyond in their work, working overtime — very late sometimes."
Keenum also lauded Marilyn Beck, president of the school, and Jack Burrow, dean of business and finance.
"None of this would be happening without their help," Keenum said. "Also, my brother Larry has been a big help, also."
Calhoun baseball coach Jim Morrill also gave out credit.
"Dr. Beck, Jack Burrow and Nancy have been huge supporters for this project," Morrill said. "Because of their work and sacrifice, we now have a facility where the players take great pride in playing at their home stadium."
Morrill said that having a new stadium will help the baseball program in more ways than one.
"Our players playing in the new stadium will probably find they have raised their level of play compared to playing without a stadium," Morrill said. "It is a confidence booster and should be a real asset when it comes to recruiting. That in itself will be very important to both our programs here at Calhoun."
The eighth-ranked Warhawks' baseball team (41-14) is scheduled to play Saturday in the opening round of
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