WARNER ROBINS — The young, the old, and even some prominent members of the Houston County community have united for one local cause — Little League.
The Little League Southeastern Region officials held a meeting at Little League Southeast Park on Monday night to brief volunteers on their tasks during the softball and baseball regional tournaments. The Little League Softball Southeastern Region Tournament begins Wednesday with a team photo day and banquet. The first game is at 10 a.m. Thursday.
By Monday night’s meeting, more than 200 people had signed up to volunteer for the two-week event, said Jen Colvin, regional director of the Little League Southeastern Region, with Warner Robins council member Paul Shealy and Houston County Board of Education chairman Tom Walmer among those in attendance.
There, event leaders discussed issues such as parking and showing hospitality to out-of-town players and their families.
Colvin said turnout was expected to be high at the games, with an estimated 6,400 spectators each day, according to local law enforcement. That number rivals the most well-attended game in Colvin’s memory — a regional final game in Gulfport, Fla., about five years ago, when one of the competing teams was from a town 12 miles away, she said.
Warner Robins American, the defending softball World Series champion, will represent Georgia in the tournament. WRALL plays on fields adjacent to the region complex.
“It’s great to see Middle Georgia have that much enthusiasm for the sport,” Colvin said.
As volunteers fanned themselves in their seats and armed themselves with bottles of water, Colvin joked about the heat to come during the event.
“This is going to be two weeks of weight loss. Where else can you lose weight and have fun?” she said.
The weather remained a prominent topic of discussion though, eliciting a warning from Jimmy Autry, senior vice president of member and communtiy relations at Flint Energies, who told volunteers to keep cool and stay hydrated at the event.
“To help the kids, we’ve got to keep ourselves safe,” Autry said.
Overseeing hundreds of volunteers is a process that involves assistance from volunteer leaders that supervise specific areas of the operation, from concessions to ticketing, Colvin said.
“We’re making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed,” she said. “It’s pure adrenaline.”
Autry, who will be helping out-of-town media navigate their way around the area, said many of the volunteers will work in multiple areas at the tournament.
While about 90 percent of those volunteers come from Middle Georgia, there are others who come from as far away as New England.
“They’re important — they add hands and feet to the jobs that get done,” Autry said of the volunteers. “They do it for the love of the game and the kids. Everyone invests their time because of the kids and everyone that’s playing.”
Jerry Vincent and Frank Trzaski are 20-year Little League volunteer veterans who have served as umpires at both boys and girls games.
“I enjoy seeing the kids play,” said Vincent, 61, of Warner Robins. “We get to see some great baseball and softball.”
“We’ll come out and enjoy it and volunteer our services any way we can,” said Trzaski, 62, of Centerville.
Keely Young, 27, of Warner Robins, is a first-time Little League volunteer. She and her brother both played Little League themselves during the 1990s and she wanted to give back to the community.
“I grew up here. I’ve always loved sports. The team is so good,” said Young, who brought along her 2-year-old daughter, Kaylin.
“We have the facilities here, and it puts Warner Robins on the map. I’m so proud.”
To contact Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.