By Chris Sokoloski
A patch of grass and a backstop behind Waccamaw Middle School have been transformed into a baseball field thanks to the efforts of parents, coaches and volunteers.
If not for the backstop people would not know a baseball field was supposed to be there, according to Fred Rourk, who spearheaded the project with Greg Ormsby.
Rourk and Ormsby both have sons who play on Waccamaw High School’s B-team, which is comprised of middle school students.
The bases weren’t attached to the ground, there was no clay where a pitcher’s mound, home plate, and bases should have been located, and there were huge holes in the outfield.
“They couldn’t practice,” Rourk said. “If it rained it was a mudhole.”
Other problems included the pitcher’s mound being the wrong height and bases being the wrong distance from each other and home plate.
“It’s important for these kids that if you’re pitching off the mound it’s the proper height and they’re throwing the proper distance,” Rourk said.
The first step was to figure out who owned the property. The Georgetown County School District said it didn’t own it, although district employees cut the grass when mowing the rest of the school grounds. The county also denied owning the property.
It took County Councilman Bob Anderson to find out that the county actually did own the property, which was part of a land swap with the School District.
Rourk then met with Beth Goodale, director of the county Parks and Recreation Department, and representatives from S&R Turf from Galivants Ferry, which did work at 8 Oaks Park in Georgetown and Retreat Park, which is behind Waccamaw Middle.
At that meeting, which took place on a Tuesday night, Rourk couldn’t convince Goodale to get the county to fix up the field.
Goodale also explained that Retreat Park was not quite ready to be used by the team.
On Wednesday morning, S&R employees and equipment showed up at the middle school and started redesigning the field.
The Parks and Recreation Department eventually donated staff time, bases and a pitching rubber, and bought clay from Glasscock Co., which also supplies clay to Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and the Atlanta Braves.
Volunteers drove to Sumter to pick up the clay and deliver it to Pawleys Island, and United Rental donated a Bobcat to move it into place.
Parents, players and coaches also pitched in to clean up the field.
One week after meeting with Goodale and S&R Turf, the B-team was using the new field.
“It’s amazing how fast it happened and how everybody was willing to step up,” Rourk said. “Basically the community just stepped up. It was an awesome thing.”
The backstop of the field is now right behind the middle school, but eventually the field will move to the far end of the property and become part of Retreat Park.
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