EAST BEND — For more than 40 years, the East Bend ball field has been host to fireworks, football games, tractor pulls, mud bogs, and county fairs. It’s a staple in the East Bend community that brings people together, but it’s best known for its church softball league.
The league started in the 1970’s when several of the local East Bend churches bought the land from the East Bend Jaycees and built the softball diamond. The league began as a men’s and women’s only league, and then later started to include co-ed teams. The number of teams has gone up and down throughout the years, with the average number of teams ranging from 14 to 18. The number of players in a single season reaches well over 200. While some churches only have one team, many of the churches involved have a co-ed team and a men’s team.
The League not only helps the local churches, but it has also brought together the seniors of East Bend. Several years ago, the East Bend ball field sold a piece of land for the East Bend Senior Center to be built on. There’s no doubt that the league has changed in its 40 years, but one thing is still for sure — it brings people together to let out their competitive sides, and helps people come together outside of their normal church routine.
It takes several people to keep the ball field going, and in perfect shape. James Hobson has been the president of the league for six years, while George Rockett is the vice president, and Sandra Adams is the secretary. Keith Russell, the East Bend ball field’s treasurer, has been part of the league for more than 30 years. He started playing with Richmond Hill Baptist Church’s softball team when he was 15, then took over as the treasurer when he was 26.
“I became treasurer as a way to get involved with the community,” said Russell. “It’s also a way for me to fellowship with my fellow churchgoers.”
Win or lose, the ball field is a fun event for those involved no matter the age. Russell said the league doesn’t have an age limit for the players. The league starts the first of May, and runs through the middle of August. Those involved with the league would love to see it continue to grow, and for the youth of the various churches to get involved. The league has helped several churches population grow; as one of the rules of the league is that a player has to attend church in order to play.
“I want people to be able to come together to fellowship outside of church,” said Russell. “I also think it’s a great way for people to stay active no matter their age.”
When the season ends, the winning teams receive a trophy, but it’s not as important as the moments that happen after the game as players gather around the pitcher’s mound for a word of prayer.
Kristian Russell can be reached at 336-258-4052 or on Twitter @YadkinElkSports.