Imagine playing in the biggest softball tournament offered and against some of the best teams in the United States.
That's exactly what two pre-teen girls' teams from Thomson did last week, during the United States Specialty Sports Association's Slo-Pitch Softball World Series, which was held at Sweetwater Park near Thomson.
Even though neither of the local softball teams were fortunate enough to win a game in either pool play or world series competition, I was proud of their efforts and the way the players and coaches represented Thomson and McDuffie County.
Unlike all of the other teams there, the two local teams are merely recreational teams - the majority of whom were selected as All-Stars from various softball teams that made up the league. They weren't nearly as skilled, overall, as the other teams, simply because they have never been exposed to traveling tournament softball like the other teams.
Many of the teams play the game just about year-round or at least work at it. And when I say work at it, that's exactly what I mean. The coaches, obviously, want to see their players get better, but so do the players, themselves!
It's how championship teams are formed - hard work, determination and commitment.
Our two local teams, meanwhile, only worked out with each other for about two weeks before last week's big event.
Nevertheless, there were many bright spots for both the Georgia Knockouts and the T-Town Slammers. They collected a number of hits during their four games each in the tournament and they turned several nice defensive plays.
Having covered their games, I got a chance to see firsthand their desire and determination on many of their faces to do well. Even when they were down by several runs, they never gave up. They kept playing as well as they could.
I admired their courageousness. I thought it said a lot about them as a team and much about their individual characters.
I have praise not only for the players on each of the local teams, but their coaches as well. From a sportsmanship standpoint, it couldn't have been any better.
My hat is off to these players and their coaches for having represented Thomson and McDuffie County in such a fine manner - on and off the field of play.
In addition, my other tribute is extended to the staff of the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services. The staff of Wayne McNeal, maintenance supervisor, did another outstanding job of getting the fields in shape for another world series.