Currently viewing the tag: "Thurmont Little League Opening Day"

Blair Garrett

The sun may not have been shining, but the smiles and laughter of 100 Little Leaguers surely brightened a cloudy day.

Opening day for Thurmont Little League (TLL) kicked off April 6, marking the organization’s 67th year providing kids with an athletic outlet in a supportive, team-oriented environment.

It was a day of fun, excitement, and giving thanks to everyone who makes Thurmont Little League baseball the great organization that it is today.

“We have a lot of people who are helping out to make this run smoothly,” TLL President Jeremy Johnson said. “I want to make sure we give all of our volunteers a round of applause.”

Above all, youth baseball is about teaching the future generation values and skills that they will remember for the rest of their lives. “We all have one goal here, and it’s for these kids to have fun,” said TLL President Jeremy Johnson.  

After opening statements, the area’s favorite Little League teams came storming onto the field, marching out with their coaches, managers, and team moms. The Majors were brought out first, sporting the league’s oldest players, followed by the Intermediate Division, the Minors, the Instructionals, and the Tee Ball teams. The day’s honorary MC was Brian Mo, afternoon DJ at 99.9 WFRE, who was responsible for pumping up the crowd for an exciting start to the TLL season.

Mo had each little leaguer recite the Little League pledge, confirming their dedication to playing hard and playing fair throughout the season.

The community support in Thurmont for youth baseball has been remarkable, particularly over the past few years, and that was recognizable multiple times during the Opening Day ceremony. 

“This community is amazing,” Mo said. “I’ve lived in many places in my life and my radio career, and I have never seen a community like Thurmont. You guys are amazing; keep doing what you’re doing, and keep being involved with these kids.”

The volunteer support, coaching, and effort put forth by everyone involved with Little League baseball has put Thurmont teams on the map during recent seasons. TLL teams have won multiple state and district championships across all age groups since 2015, largely in part to the attention and time dedicated by the volunteers that make Thurmont Little League possible.

Paul “PJ” Nicholson, stood out among the group, while TLL President Johnson read a few quotes from family and friends who know Nicholson. “PJ believes in playing hard, working harder, giving back to the community, and being a great friend to young and old alike,” Johnson said. “PJ’s love for family goes beyond blood. His extended family is Thurmont Little League.” After the passage of kind words,  praising Nicholson’s efforts for TLL, Johnson unveiled the real surprise.

“With that said, our minor league field is no longer called our minor league field. It is now called ‘Nicholson field.’” Nicholson’s response to the love from his closest friends was short and sweet, but there was no shortage of emotion in the crowd.

As the opening ceremony came to a close, there was only one more piece of business to address before the kids were ready to take the field. “The season can’t start without a first pitch, right?” Mo asked, adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Tony Testa, owner of Rocky’s Pizza and proud supporter of Thurmont Little League.” Testa’s pitch brought about hundreds of screaming little leaguers, and with that, TLL’s 2019 season commenced.

Opening Day not only signifies the beginning of a year of fun and competition for the kids of Northern Maryland, but it also offers fans, parents, and TLL supporters a chance to take a step back and appreciate the great opportunities that organized sports provide their children to learn and grow. The Little League season may have just begun, but the lessons and camaraderie young baseball players experience during their time with TLL will last a lifetime. 

Warm weather and clear skies welcomed players, parents, and families to Thurmont Little League’s Opening Day on Saturday, April 14, 2018. With some games beginning as early as 8:30 a.m., everyone was eager to enjoy their first day on the field for the season. At 10:00 a.m., a few hundred people gathered around the main field waiting for the Opening Ceremony to begin.

“I’ll be honest, it’s my honor to support you all and support the kids…” said new president, Jeremy Johnson, as he graciously thanked all in attendance. He commended his volunteers, board of directors, team managers, coaches, team moms, umpires, concessions, and everything in between, for making Thurmont Little League so successful.

Catoctin Dental was recognized for being Thurmont’s Grand Slam Sponsor. This year, a new scoreboard was donated and will soon be placed on the minor league field, sponsored by J&J Trash Service.

Every year, the league relies heavily on community support from not only its volunteers, but the local businesses as well. This year’s team sponsors for the Majors division include: Ace Hardware, sponsoring the Brewers; Unanet, sponsoring the Cubs; Rocky’s Pizza, sponsoring the Diamondbacks; Thurmont AMVETS, sponsoring the Nationals; Catoctin Dental, sponsoring the Orioles; PJ’s Roofing was sponsored by PJ’s Roofing, Inc.

As for the Minors, the sponsors include: Highland Yards Landscaping, sponsoring the Astros; Center of Life Chiropractic, sponsoring the Blue Jays; Cubs, sponsored by Monocacy Lawn Care; G&S Electric, sponsoring the Diamondbacks; Affordable Glass, sponsoring the Dodgers; Mearl R. Eyler Painting and D/Law, sponsoring the Orioles.

Instructional Division sponsors include: Woodsboro Bank, sponsoring the Cubs; Roy Rogers, sponsoring the Nationals; Ashby Transportation Consults, sponsoring the Orioles; PJ’s Roofing, Inc. also sponsoring the Phillies; J&J Trash Service Inc., sponsoring the Pirates; Black’s Funeral Home, sponsoring the Royals.

The T-Ball Division had a total of eight teams for the season. Sponsors include: Amber Hill Physical Therapy, sponsoring the Cardinals; Med One Pharmacy, sponsoring the Cubs; Davis Systems, sponsoring the Dodgers; American Legion Post 168, sponsoring the Indians; Sticky’s Designs, sponsoring the Marlins; Tobacco Free Frederick, sponsoring the Orioles; Shamrock, sponsoring the Pirates; Dave Siess Construction, sponsoring the Yankees.

This year’s Intermediate Division will consist of two teams (11-13 year-old), with great talent and skills. Thurmont Lightning will be led by Joe Wehage and Thurmont Thunder will be led by Brent Reynolds.

During the ceremony, DJ Brian Moe invited Thurmont’s famed 2017 All-Star team on the field, recognizing their handwork and dedication that brought them so far last year, achieving District 2 and State Champions. They competed in the Mid-Atlantic region finals and took second place. The All-Stars consisted of Braden Manning, Peyton Castellow, EJ Lowry, Logan Simanski, Josh Skowronski, Braden Bell, DJ Shipton, Donovan Baker, Joey McMannis, Griff Puvel, Connor Crum, and Will Gisriel, with Head Coach Tim Castellow and Assistant Coaches, Ed Lowry and Chris Skowronski.

Last year, Thurmont 9-11 All-Stars also followed their older counter parts to District 2 Championships and played in the state Tournament, held in Easton, Maryland. Players included Mason Ferrell, Dallas Baker, Jordan Moore, Peyton Cramer, Ben Krauss, Gavin Watkins, Garrett Worth, Zane Shugars, Caden Diggs, RJ High, Rylan Manning, and RJ Etzler, with Head Coach Ryan Ferrell and Assistant Coaches Wayne Watkins and Jake Baker.

As DJ Brian Mo led the Player’s and Parent/Volunteer Pledge, the crowd recited in sync, leading up to the first pitch, which makes every season officially baseball season in Thurmont. This year, the Clingerman family, who has been on the fields many times to play ball, lost their beloved brother, son, and uncle, Colton Clingerman. In his honor, Reed Clingerman thanked the Thurmont Little League for all of their support. “Thurmont Little League is the glue of the community. We all come together, we are all here.” Little brother, Asher Clingerman came forth to throw the first pitch.

Closing the ceremony, Aubrie Gadra volunteered her talents to sing the “National Anthem.” After a touching performance, families were dismissed to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day on the fields and to play ball.