Community deserves to celebrate

Summertime in Martinsburg looks a lot like the movie “The Sand Lot,” set in 1962, when boys played baseball every night until the street lights came on.

With tree-lined avenues, meticulously manicured lawns, and beautiful community pool, you could almost see Smalls, Squints, Bennie the Jet and all the gang trolling the streets, bats over their shoulders, looking for a pick-up baseball game.

That is part of the charm of Morrisons Cove. In all the best ways, the community is a Hamlet, seemingly frozen in time, circa “The Sand Lot” era, a little slice of Americana, where practice fields are surrounded by corn fields.

In the Cove, lawn chairs serve as place-holders for the annual agricultural parade, where flag-waving families line the streets to watch the promenade of tractors, community groups, civic leaders and high school marching band — a highlight of the summer.

Uniforms tell a story here, representing hard work and commitment from FFA jackets, to medical scrubs to suits and ties.

Rural communities like this supply the U.S. military with more than 44 percent of its recruits. It’s a place where young people learn values of hard work and dedication, and where honor is defined by service and sacrifice.

In areas like the Cove, the local schedule revolves around the high school calendar, from fall Friday nights of high school football, to the school’s-out-but-baseball-goes-on PIAA playoffs.

It’s a community of families and neighbors who join together and support one another, in times of tragedy and in triumph. And this week, they are celebrating Central High School’s first-ever state baseball championship.

The coveted title was more than a season in the making. It was a product of generations of players and coaches, from T-ball to the big leagues. They built a program, a tradition and now a legacy on those very values that the Cove holds so dear.

High school sports have a special way of bringing communities together, perhaps even more so in small towns. Children in small classrooms share experiences year after year, from preschool to high school, learning, playing and growing together.

In small towns, big experiences are shared by close-knit groups; in these graduating classes everyone knows everyone.

So when a team of teenagers, led by coaches who grew up playing on the very same sand lots, distinguish themselves as the best-of-the-best in the state of Pennsylvania, everyone deserves to join in the celebration, because the community set the stage for that success.

A victory parade is like a family reunion, and the Scarlet Dragons are the grand marshals.

In “The Sand Lot,” baseball provided the backdrop to a story of friendship and belonging among a group of ball players who took on all-comers, together.

Much like the state champion Central baseball team, which has made the home crowd very proud.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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