The third time is a charm.
When ZLL switched from Opening Day ceremonies to Opening Night ceremonies in 2012, the goal was to have warmer temperatures and more sunshine to work with. The first year, 2012, Opening Night was postponed to the next morning because of cold and rain. Last year, Opening Night was wiped out and delayed for a week because of the heavy flooding at Lions’ Park. After two years in a row with setbacks, our patience was rewarded with beautiful sunshine, warm temperatures, big smiles, and lots of energy.
Nearly a thousand players and coaches from Zionsville Little League’s Rec Baseball, Softball, and Challenger programs, and the Boys and Girls Club of Zionsville Tee-ball program participated in the traditional Parade of Players onto Brighthouse Field 2 at Lions’ Park. WXIN’s Michael Henrich announced the stream of teams that filled the field with boys and girls ages 4 to 18. The players showed their enthusiasm for the new season by running a gauntlet of high fives and tossing their caps into the air.
The Zionsville Middle School Swing Choir aced their rendition of The Star Spangled Banner to kick off the event. ZLL baseball player Ethan Baker recited the Little League Pledge, and the ceremony was well underway.
ZLL uses the Opening Night ceremony to recognize individuals and organizations that make ZLL the best youth sports program in Zionsville. This year, John Chamberlain was awarded the prestigious McKamey-Holmes Award for his leadership in establishing and managing the ZLL Challenger softball program for special needs children. John created the program at ZLL seven years ago, and it has been a great success. Other Little League programs in Central Indiana have modeled their programs after ZLL’s.
In addition, Kite-Harris Property Group, represented by Bob Harris, received the Sponsor of the Year Award for the company’s strong loyalty and support to ZLL. Kite Harris has sponsored multiple teams each year for several years and has donated materials and funds to help ZLL with various infrastructure projects. ZLL is indebted to all of its sponsors, and it is a privilege to receive the support from so many generous businesses, organizations, families, and individuals. Unlike most local youth baseball/softball organizations, ZLL pays the expenses of operating its host park, and our sponsors help offset a significant portion of those costs.
The 2013 ZLL Junior Softball All-Star team, which won the Indiana Junior Softball Title and participated in the Little League Regional Tournament was also honored for its great success last year. The team displayed its state championship banner.
The festivities concluded with the tradition of throwing out a ceremonial “First Pitch”. Maddie Swanson tossed a strike to Abigail Pickell as the representatives of ZLL softball players. Tate Eugenio represented ZLL baseball players and hurled a strike to his catcher, Luke Shelton.
Three games were played under the lights following the ceremony and a full slate of games followed on Saturday on a beautiful day for all.
Photos from Opening Night are available for viewing on the Zionsville Little League Facebook page.