New softball field is girl's 'field of dreams'

By Julie Fann
Star Staff

Parents of girls who play for T.A. Dugger's softball team are "pitching in" to build a proper field where the Junior Lady Cyclones can play. "I don't know. The school had a place for a field, and I started to think, maybe if we build it, people will come," said Mark Musick, whose daughter is an eighth-grade player. Musick and another concerned father, Mike Hubbard, decided their daughters deserved more.
   "We were just tired of always searching for a place for the girls to play. Sometimes Parks and Recreation would let us use their field, or we'd use Blackbottom Field or Lyon's Field, but it really affected the team's performance, and we'd get beat," Musick said. Musick and Hubbard decided to talk to Superintendent of Schools Judy Blevins to seek her approval on the project to build a field at the school, since the state is low on funding. Blevins was supportive.
   "Mark Musick came to me about it, and I was glad that he and other parents were interested in doing this. We definitely support athletics for girls, especially since Title IX was passed," she said. The Title IX Law, passed in 1972, requires that the government mandate equivalent programs for males and females. The legislation has expanded physical activity opportunities for girls and women.
   Musick talked to several area companies and asked for their assistance. General Shale donated 700 cinder blocks to build two dugouts, and Humphrey Masonry of Mountain City will be delivering it. Elizabethton Lumber donated two tons of sand and 20 bags of mortar for the project. Also, C and K Wrecker Service removed the old dilapidated dugouts and benches, and Summers-Taylor Hardware contributed to the job.
   "I think it's easy for folks to sit back and complain about why we don't have this or that, but until people outside the city school system, citizens of the community, start doing something, real changes aren't going to happen," Musick said. Musick and Hubbard's goal is to have the field completed by the beginning of next year's softball season, complete with bathrooms, a concession stand, and, eventually, lights.
   Harry Farthing, T.A. Dugger softball coach, said that he has seen an increase in the number of girls who are interested in playing softball. "There's definitely been a surge. This is the first year I've had to cut players. I had 45 girls try out for the team, and I only needed 16. I had to actually cut girls who are good athletes," Farthing said.
   Pat Hicks, Assistant Superintendent of Carter County Schools, also says he's seen an increase in the number of girls interested in sports in general. "We've expanded girls' sports quite a bit, as a result. In the last five years some of the elementary/middle schools have added softball teams," he said.
   The local Girl's and Boy's Club offers pitching-machine softball for girls ages eight to 10. "We don't have any softball for older kids. I think it would be a good idea to have girl's softball. Probably 40 to 50 girls participate in the pitching-machine softball," said Pappy Crowe, Executive Director of Elizabethton Boy's and Girl's Club.
   However, Jim Presnell, Athletic Director at Elizabethton High School, explained that football and basketball are the sports that generate funding for all other teams. "It's kind of unfortunate, but it's true," he said. "Those are the big sports. And they probably always will be."