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Dugout Doings: An NYO Opening Day honor

Even as a hard rain fell, David Bickers and his Southern Exposures landscape crew were hard at work preparing the NYO fields for Opening Day ceremonies. Baselines and batters boxes needed to be chalked, infields smoothed and treated with a drying agent to absorb the moisture. Rare is the day that a mere shower cancels NYO games. It's a routine David and his guys follow seven days a week from mid-March to late May when baseball and softball return to the Chastain fields. On Saturdays and Sundays, when games begin early, field preparation can start before sun-up.

But this day would be special. One of the highest honors NYO bestows is to ask someone special to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. This year, David and six members of his crew were afforded that honor. As they lined up at the mound of the Jane Wilkins Bronco field, the seven men eyed the young catchers to whom they would throw. For David Bickers, who grew up playing NYO baseball and whose sons have followed his lead, it marked the first time he had pitched on the field since 1982. He threw a strike. With that, Opening Day ceremonies concluded. And David and his crew headed back to their equipment to insure NYO's fields remained among the very best of any youth recreational program in the country.
(Jay Smith, who writes Dugout Doings, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..     Note, there is no 'i' in the email address.)

Dugout Doings: 'A slice of American pie'

Eighteen-hundred helium-filled balloons get tied to fences starting at 7 a.m. Saturday. On Friday, 300 bows of red, white and blue bunting will have been draped on the fences. School cheerleaders and mascots were lined up months ago. In the Dowis building, 60 plastic grocery bags --- one for each team of 4-to-8-year-old boys and girls --- contain tiny American flags and sparkling beaded necklaces. On Saturday, 700-plus children will march in NYO's annual Opening Day Parade. The parade and ceremony last barely an hour, but they're months in the making, ending in a mad dash by some of the most-dedicated and hardest-working volunteers NYO has.

'You get out of your car (on Saturday morning) and it's still dark,' parade co-chair Margaret Bryant says.'The sun comes up and before long the massive wave of children being dropped off hits. It's one of the neatest mornings of the year. Like Christmas.' Merideth Houseman, Margaret's co-chair and kindred spirit, puts it this way: 'It has that small-town feeling --- flags, bands and baseball. It's a slice of American pie.' (To read more, please click on the headline)

2017 Jane Wilkins Baseball/Softball Opening Day

Hello NYO Nation!

It's almost time... Is everyone ready to take the field???

We've all just sprung forward and there's an eager energy in the air that feels like the entire park is on deck... you know it's time to kick off the 2017 baseball/softball season and we are all excitedly awaiting that first official pitch...

NYO's Jane Wilkins Baseball/Softball Opening Day 2017 will take place this Saturday, March 18.  This is our own fantastic community tradition with a goal to get everyone in the spirit for all of the games ahead.   The parade will include NYO's Christopher League, Kit Kat and Rookie softball teams and all Small Ball, Shetland Blue, Red and Rookie baseball teams. Every year, the tradition carries on as many of our older athletes come back to volunteer their time to assist the younger crowd that looks up to them... we really are a team!  There is also an always impressive crew of Atlanta school and professional team mascots to really get the crowd fired-up!

(Click Photo to Read More)

Dugout Doings: Chesny and Kyle

Chesny Young is a regular in these Dugout Doings columns. From his days leading Marist High School to two state championships through three record-setting years with the Mercer University Bears to his rise in the  Chicago Cubs baseball organization, I have written about him often and will, again, today. Too seldom, however, have I written about Kyle Farmer. Kyle, like Chesny, is an NYO and Marist alum, who starred at shortstop for the University of Georgia. Now a catcher, Kyle is on the Los Angeles Dodgers' 40-man roster and has been rated among the team's top-25 prospects by truebluela.com. Chesny is rated #23 among rising Chicago stars by cubsinsider.com and was a non-roster invitee to spring training.

Google either of their names and you'll find high praise for each. 'Farmer very well could be the next man up . . . as the third catcher on the 40-man (roster), but it seems likely he'll spend quite a bit of time in Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he ended last year in the Pacific Coast League playoffs,' according to truebluela.com. Here's what cubsinsider has to say about Chesny: 'Now at Triple-A Iowa, Young can almost sniff Chicago. (This) should be his best year, as he will be in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Young hit .303 at Double-A Tennessee in 2016 and might be able to come up and stick with Chicago later in this year.' (To read more, please click on headline)

Dugout Doings: 'Make it fun'

Courtney Moreno arrived early and read as she awaited Dr. Jack Llewellyn's presentation in the NYO gym on Sunday.  Her son, Ricky, is 5 and played Small Ball last spring. 'Some days, he mostly enjoyed playing in the dirt,' Courtney recalls. But when mom and dad asked Ricky if he wanted to play in the fall, then again this spring, he responded enthusiastically. 'We try to be encouraging, to remain positive and we want for him to have fun.'
With those few words, Courtney Moreno could have delivered Jack Llewellyn's speech for him. But Dr. Jack's hour-long talk to NYO coaches and parents contained the color and perspective gained when you've lived 72 years and spent most of them as an athlete, a coach or a counselor to the elite (and not-so-elite) of sport.  On this occasion, part of NYO's Positive Coaching program, he focused on youngsters, their parents and the men and women who coach them.
(To read more, please click the headline)

Crimson Tide Win Rookie League Crown!

Congratulations to our NYO Rookie League champions the Crimson Tide who won in a thrilling one-point victory on Sunday, Feb 12 against the Bulldogs.  The team was led by coaches Chad Carlisle and Chris Kuzniak, who were also had the season’s best record at 6 – 1. 

Wildcats Over Jackets for Developmental League Crown

The NYO Developmental Basketball League has crowned a new champion for the 2016 - 2017 season.  The Wildcats beat the Yellow Jackets in a very exciting game on Sunday, Feb 12.  The team was led by coaches Peter Jones and PJ Wade. 

Tarheels over the Volunteers in the X-League Championship

The X-League Tar Heels capped an impressive season by ruining away from the Vols 64-49 in the X League Championship at NYO last Thursday night.  The Tar Heels total team effort was led by Ford Stratton’s 19 points and stellar defense as they broke open a close game at the half and outscored the Vols 19-7 in the 3rd quarter to take control of the game. 
(Click Title to Read More)

Majors Deacons over the Jackets in an Overtime Thriller!

The Deacons complete their season with yet another comeback win against the tough fought Yellow Jackets. The Jackets, led by Jayden Stimpson and Miles Moss, jumped out to an early first quarter lead, but the Deacons managed to battle back with tough defense by Christopher Fielden to gain a lead at halftime.
(Click Title to Read More)