Monday, February 22, 2010

Opening Day

Yesterday I had the privilege of throwing out the first ball in the Tri-Valley Girls Softball League opening day ceremonies at Ventura College. Seeing hundreds of girls ages 5 to 14 -- dressed in uniform, lined up together, proudly displaying their team sign -- was a valuable reminder of how vibrant and wonderful our community life here in Ventura is. I have always loved watching kids play on the playing fields of Ventura -- whether at the college, at Cabrillo Middle School, or wherever -- with the beautiful backdrop of the hills behind them.

It also brought back memories for me from the day, almost fifteen years ago, when my daughter (who's now away at college) was a T-ball player in the Tri-Valley League. Then, as now, I was moved by the energy and excitement of the girls. And for my daughter, that Tri-Valley opening back in 1996 was kind of a political eye-opener. She watched then-Mayor Jack Tingstrom, attired in a Bill Cosby-style sweater, throw out the first ball, and she said to me: "Dad, who the heck is that guy, and why is he here?"

And, as it turned out, this year's Tri-Valley opening was fraught with politics as well -- at least, the politics of budget cuts. As City Manager Rick Cole reported in his blog this week, budget shortfalls at Ventura College forced the college to ask Tri-Valley for a big rent increase for using the fields this year. But thanks to the intervention of College President Robin Calote and Athletics Dean Tim Harrison (as well as Rick and our city's recreation supervisor, Judy Devine), Tri-Valley got a one-year extension on the old lease. So now they're playing ball.

And, by the way, I threw a strike -- to everyone's surprise, especially mine.

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