Favorite #166: Single Mom, Patricia Watkins

Dewayne, Patricia, and Tremayne sharing a moment at Christmas.

Dewayne, Patricia, and Tremayne sharing a moment at Christmas.

Tough Love at its Finest 

In this day and age of instant gratification with social media enticing both young and old, it’s becoming harder and harder to teach children values. As a single parent, Patricia Watkins found a way.

Patricia knew when her twin boys, Tremayne and Dewayne Smith were born she wanted to raise them the same way her mother, Libby, had raised her.  Although Patricia and her siblings always had chores, before the chores they were expected to work on homework for an hour followed by Bible reading. Patricia said reading the Bible out loud not only helped with vocabulary and language, but also helped her build confidence for public speaking.

As a child growing up on a farm, some of Patricia’s chores included milking the cows, feeding the chickens and working the garden. She believes a structure of chores, homework and Bible reading taught her manners, respect, responsibility and a love for God. Little did Patricia know one day she would pass these same values on to her sons, helping them develop strong morals and character.

Even though things weren’t always easy as a single parent, Patricia said the twins somehow always had their needs met. If they wanted a quarter for candy, they earned the quarter by doing a chore. At the time Tremayne felt delayed gratification was old-fashioned, but later understood that lesson helped him reach his goals.

Now young men in their twenties, Tremayne and Dewayne have goals and ambitions most only dream about. They give credit to their mom for setting boundaries during their formative years, providing opportunities for growth and development. They’re also appreciative of the support she had from their maternal and paternal grandmothers and the local church. Each helped in different ways when needed most.

Tremayne graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in music and political science. He is now attending George Washington University on a music scholarship with his sights set on serving others as a politician someday. He’s getting plenty of experience as a Special Assistant to Congressman G.K. Butterfield, NC 1st District. Congressman Butterfield is Democratic Chief Deputy Whip in the US House and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Dewayne graduated from Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, with a Health and PE degree. He now travels the world inspiring young people as a member of Team Rock Ministries. This ministry travels mostly the United States and Puerto Rico spreading the gospel through acrobatics, gymnastics and martial arts. If you visit their website you’ll see Dewayne in action.

It’s no surprise Patricia’s philosophy for raising well-adjusted, motivated young men comes from the Bible. After all she spent many hours reading and memorizing as a child.  The verse she uses as a guide is Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way of the Lord and when they are old they won’t depart from it.” Patricia explains, “That doesn’t mean they will be perfect. It just means they will have the seed of knowledge, and hopefully, if they do stray, they will return one day.”  Patricia’s mother, Libby, said, “Even if the seeds don’t take, it’s still our responsibility to plant the seeds anyway.”

As a single mom with obstacles to overcome, by providing boundaries and sharing a strong faith in God, Patricia taught her sons that true happiness and fulfillment doesn’t come from material things, but from within. Every child should be so lucky.

What are your thoughts about parenting children in this age of instant gratification? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #165: Making a Difference

A day in the life of a future politician in Washington, DC.

A day in the life of a future politician in Washington, DC.

Dreams and Aspirations

As a retired elementary school music teacher, I’ve had students I won’t ever forget. One of those is Tremayne Smith. A well-mannered, outgoing student, Tremayne developed a love for music in elementary school, dreaming of being a high school band director one day.

As a freshman entering East Carolina University, Tremayne declared his major as music, but during his sophomore year it looked like his career might take a detour when he became interested in politics. That interest became stronger after working for the Obama presidential campaign and is when Tremayne decided to earn a double major in political science and music.

His hard work didn’t go unnoticed because after graduation, he was offered a position in North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan’s office in Washington, DC. During that year, he met many dignitaries, including President Barack Obama, even sharing a private conversation with the President on Father’s Day at the famous Thomas Sweet Ice Cream Shop in historic Georgetown.

The glitz, glamour and lights of Washington, however, could not subdue Tremayne’s desire to return to his first love of music. His three years as a teacher at Rocky Mount High School in Rocky Mount, North Carolina made a difference with students working hard to achieve the degree of excellence their teacher and mentor expected. Loving both music and politics, when the opportunity came to go back to Washington, DC, Tremayne struggled with leaving the classroom, but knew destiny was knocking on his door.

The following is what Tremayne posted on my Facebook page, December 29th, 2015. Mrs. McCullough I have been awarded a George Washington University music scholarship for Wind Ensemble and Orchestra as I pursue my Masters in Political Management. I wanted to thank you, my first music teacher at Cleveland Elementary School for introducing me to organized music. Your influence continues on.

Vicki Williams and Tammy Reyes must have been excited when they saw that same message on their Facebook page. Tremayne was a band student of Ms. Williams at West Rowan Middle School, and Ms. Reyes at West Rowan High School.

The love of music and all it has to offer including a scholarship has been the stepping stone to broaden Tremayne’s view of the world, giving  him the confidence through performance to achieve other goals. His desire now is to make a difference, not only in the classroom, but on the national scene in the political realm, with hopes of someday being President.

Thinking about his career as a teacher and a politician, Tremayne said, Being a public-school educator was one of the high points of my life. Having a one-on-one daily interaction, with a hand in shaping and molding the next generation has been my motivation. And, much like then to now, working in Congress and as a student Senator at the George Washington University, I am in it for the outcome, not the income.

A young man with motivation to succeed in everything he does, Tremayne has all the attributes to be President. Not only is he smart, but he cares about others and has a heart to serve. I can’t wait to see where life takes him and I can’t wait to say I taught the President of the United States of America. By the way, when Tremayne was in third grade, he sang in a school-wide performance the song, You Can Grow Up to Be President.

Congratulations, Tremayne on your success. God bless.

In two weeks I plan to write a follow-up blog about Tremayne and his twin brother, Dewayne, and how they honor their mother ( a single-parent) through their life choices.

Do you know someone who is making a difference in the lives of others? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com.








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Favorite #164: Salem Lutheran Preschool

Salem Lutheran Preschool teachers enjoying a Christmas moment.

Salem Lutheran Preschool teachers enjoy a laugh with Santa.

A Place to Learn and Grow

Although there are many milestones in a child’s life, one of the hardest and yet one of the sweetest for a parent could be the day their child starts preschool. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since my grandson, Carson, started at Salem Lutheran Preschool in Salisbury, NC.

I had the opportunity recently to talk with the school’s director, Dana Robertson. In our conversation she shared some of the goals the faculty and staff have for the children in their care. Along with those goals is the philosophy that each preschooler is a child of God, unique and special. Using that philosophy as their standard, they give children opportunities to explore, experiment and ask questions. The hope is that children will develop a new independence in the world both inside and outside the home, developing friendships with others along the way.

Dana said, “Under the leadership of caring and qualified teachers, classes provide a balance of age-appropriate creative art, music, devotions, outdoor play, story time, dramatic play and group activities.” I saw this exemplified a few weeks ago during a Christmas program where approximately fifty children ranging in ages from two to five proudly performed through singing and playing instruments. One of the favorite songs of both the audience and the children was Jingle Bells. As cameras and cell phones flashed all over the room the children sang and played their bells, smiling ear to ear.

Everyone was invited after the performance to see firsthand the learning taking place through planned activities based around the Christmas theme. The children listened to and discussed a Christmas story, painted a candy cane with finger prints and made reindeer food. Just as Dana had said the teachers were careful to incorporate age-appropriate activities that enhanced learning through hands-on experiences.  

After the children finished their projects, excitement grew when they realized Santa had arrived. They couldn’t wait to sit on his lap sharing the secret desires of their heart. As you can see in the photo, the teachers had as much fun as the children. The morning ended with everyone joining together in a blessing for a delicious snack. It was sweet hearing the children’s conversation with friends and loved ones as they sat together at the tables.

Carson’s mother, Kristin Saine, said she has especially enjoyed the events where parents were invited to participate such as the Christmas program and October fall fun. She said, “It was during those times that I saw preschool through Carson’s eyes. It’s been amazing to watch him grow. He loves his school and teachers and as a parent that means the most.” Kristin was also appreciative of caring teachers who taught lessons preparing the children for school while incorporating Christian values. 

Many thanks to Salem Lutheran Preschool teachers, faculty and staff for providing children a safe place to learn and grow. God bless you and all teachers everywhere as you start the New Year.

How has preschool made a difference in your child’s life?  Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #163: Cleveland Christmas Parade

The West Rowan High School Band marching in the Cleveland Christmas parade.

The West Rowan High School Band making beautiful music in the Cleveland, NC, Christmas parade.

Local Fun and Merriment

When I asked my four-year-old grandson, Carson, how many times he had seen Santa this year, he proudly said, “Five.” Counting on his fingers he recalled seeing Santa at the Bass Pro Shop, Salem Lutheran Preschool, the Cleveland Christmas parade and on the Polar Express. After he finished counting, I said, “That’s only four.” He laughed and said, “I know. I forgot one.”

No matter how many times a child sees Santa it’s always a treat. I had the opportunity to be a part of that excitement last week at Salem Lutheran Church for Carson’s preschool program and the week before at the Cleveland Christmas parade.

Cleveland, NC, is a little town half-way between Salisbury and Statesville. In 1972 the Cleveland Lions Club organized the first parade and has sponsored it ever since. Over the last forty-three years children in the community have grown up not only attending the parade, but in many cases participating.  My daughter, Kristin, seen in the photo above was one of those children. Her dad, Michael McCullough, was a coach for the Rowan County Youth Football League at that time. Kristin often rode on the float beside her dad cheering for the team. Now she’s enjoying the parade as a spectator with her husband, Brian, and their two sons, Carson and Garrett. Brian and the boys are not in the picture because they were busy catching candy.

The Christmas parade route follows Main Street passing by local churches and businesses such as the Cleveland Post Office, Leo’s Barber shop, Cleveland Presbyterian Church and neighborhood homes. People often enjoy sitting on their front porch waving to friends and family as the parade passes by.

This year entries included beauty queens, high school bands, horseback riders, church floats, fire trucks, police cars, the Rowan County Youth Football League/West area, motorcycles, and, of course, Santa. Even though Cleveland is a small parade, it boasts of having world class entries such as the Little League World Series Champs, and a piece of steel in art-form from the World Trade Center. As that float passed by we all stopped to think of the sacrifice made on the morning of 9/11.  With temps. in the mid-sixties, even a grandma like me enjoyed sitting outside watching the parade on a bright December day.

As a retired music teacher, one of my favorite entries was the West Rowan High School Marching Band seen in the photo above. Daniel Trivette, the band director works hard to make sure his students perform well and they didn’t disappoint.

Although everyone was excited to see Santa, we all were sad when the parade was over. Many thanks to Cleveland Lions Club for their willingness to volunteer time and talents to bring joy to this small-town community during the Christmas season. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for next year.

What’s your favorite community event at Christmas? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.









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Favorite #162: Life with Mom

Mom, holding her youngest great-grandchild last year.

Mom is in the middle holding her youngest great-grandchild last year.

Special Moments and Memories

My 95-year-old Mom has always been an independent woman. Living by herself since my dad passed away nine-years-ago, she takes pleasure in cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and talking with friends. That all changed recently one Sunday afternoon in October.

Over the last few years mom has been losing weight and as a result has become more and more frail, gradually losing the ability to take care of herself. This process is what the doctors call a “decline.”  Now that she’s living with me, some days we laugh and joke, while other days the pain she suffers takes center stage.

Mom has always been the one to reach out and help others. I’ve seen her take food to shut in’s or give a few dollars here and there when someone needed money to pay a bill. Often she showed kindness or caring by something as simple as calling a neighbor or friend to check on them. She was living out her faith by showing Christian love.

Mom has helped me in ways I could never repay. For example, when my husband, Michael, was injured in a motorcycle accident during the first year of our marriage, I had to work and couldn’t take him to therapy, so Mom took him. It was odd seeing this sixty-something woman driving a twenty-something young man to therapy. Heads must have turned as they went down the highway, but Michael’s injuries were so bad the only way he could ride in the car was to stretch out in the back seat with Mom as the chauffeur. Even while waiting during his therapy sessions, she never complained or wanted anything in return.

When our daughters were growing up, if I had to work and they were sick all I had to do was call Mom and she would babysit. She’s the one person in my life, no matter what I do or how grumpy I get, she always forgives and forgets.

Now it’s my turn to be there for her. I can’t say the last few months have been easy, but I’ve discovered taking one day at a time is what works best. The sweetest times we’ve shared have been bedtime because it’s then Mom enjoys talking the most. Last night she began talking about dancing. As I sat beside her bed, I said, “Mom, one day you’ll be dancing in heaven.” She laughed and said, “That would be great. It’ll be like the day World War II ended and everyone was dancing in the streets in Salisbury.”

On the day the war ended Mom was working at Cone Mills in Salisbury, NC. She said when the news came the mill closed and everyone went up town to celebrate. Knowing she hadn’t met Dad yet, I asked if she danced with a man. With a slight grin and a far-away look in her eyes, as if remembering, she said, “I danced with everybody.”

I don’t know how many nights or days we’ll have together, but I know one thing for sure, I’ll remember moments like this and hold them close to my heart forever.

Special thanks to everyone who has helped with Mom’s care, including Community Home Care and Hospice from Statesville, NC. Mom especially has enjoyed the company, the attention and the baths.

What special moments have you shared with your mom? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #161: The Love of a Dog

My Little Dog, Protector, Friend, Bandit

Bandit enjoyed being groomed by Michelle Trivette at Uptown Dogs and Cats in Salisbury, NC. This photo was taken a few weeks before he passed.

Unconditional Love 

Stories of dogs giving their lives for their owners, or traveling hundreds of miles to get home are examples of a bond like no other. In today’s world with modern technology not only do we hear stories, but we see them play out right before our eyes. Recently, I saw an image on the internet that touched my heart of a military dog lying perfectly still beside the coffin of his master during a memorial service.

Five years ago, my husband, Michael, and I rescued a terrier from a shelter in Boone, NC.  We were on vacation in Blowing Rock when Michael saw Bandit’s photo in a local newspaper and fell in love with him. As he traveled to his new home, Bandit was understandably nervous, but once settled in began to show his real personality. Bandit loved to play fetch and enjoyed looking for things (mostly bones) that Michael hid around the house or outside. Often following Michael to the shop behind our house, Bandit’s nickname became shop dog.  When Michael passed last year, not only did the family grieve but Bandit did, too. I tried filling in the gaps, but it never was the same.  

Several months after Michael’s passing I took Bandit in for his yearly check-up at Rowan Animal Clinic in Salisbury, NC. It was then I learned Bandit had a heart murmur, an enlarged heart and fluid on the lungs. After taking the prescribed medicine Bandit seemed like his old self again, playing and acting silly. Everything seemed fine until one Saturday morning a few weeks ago when Bandit woke up not able to breath. He passed away that morning at 11:00.

When I shared the news with my 95-year-old mom, she cried. Mom moved in with me earlier this fall and since then has shared a special bond with Bandit. It wasn’t unusual to see the two of them sitting side-by-side on the couch or see Mom covering him with a blanket. When she talked, Bandit looked right into her eyes. It didn’t matter if he was sleeping, eating or chasing squirrels, when Mom called, he came. I’m glad she experienced that kind of love, if only for a little while.

We all could take a lesson from our pets about loyalty and unconditional love. They don’t care what we look like, how much money we have or if we’re near the end of life, they just love us.

Bandit’s final resting place is under a pin oak tree in the front yard as a reminder of a special friend who loved and was loved. In a short span of only five years, he touched more lives than some people do in decades.

Have you ever had a family pet to pass away? How did you deal with the grief? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Special thanks to the staff, support staff and management team at the Rowan Animal Clinic for your kindness and concern during our time of grief.






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Favorite #160: Fall Festivals

Sandi Hache, dressed as a farmer, explaining the rules for the chili cook-off.

Sandi Hache explains the rules to the judges for the first annual chili cook-off at Franklin Baptist Church. Justin Safrit enjoys a bowl of chili in the background.

A Time of Fun and Fellowship

Many people enjoy the fall because of football season and the mild temps, while others enjoy the fall because of the variety of activities such as fall festivals and craft fairs.

At one time fall festivals were a way for farmers to share their produce at the end of the growing season, but today fall festivals have as many variations as there are communities. Franklin Baptist Church in Salisbury, NC, sponsors a fall festival each year as a fun, safe alternative to Halloween. This year organized by Sandi Hache, Sandi said the hard work of volunteers such as Bobby Safrit, Jason Plummer, Tara Safrit, Norma Thomas, Becky Bost, Dina Plummer and many others is what made the event a success. 

A chili cook-off, pumpkin carving, cake walks, games, inflatables, face painting, glitter stenciling, oversized bicycles, food, and, of course, candy, were some of the items and activities available. Cathy Saine said one of her favorite things to do each year has been the cake walk. She said, “That was especially true during the years Louise Nicholson made her red velvet cake. There was always pushing and shoving going on to win that cake. And yes, I have to admit I was one of the  “trouble makers”. Even now, people laugh about those days.”

One of the most memorable events this year was a hay ride to points of interest about the life of Christ known as the “Portrait of Jesus”. The four points were the birth, miracles, cross and resurrection. At each stop, Jason Plummer read a script written by Sandi Hache with an explanation of the event such as an empty tomb for the resurrection. Betsy Safrit said the final destination is what touched her heart the most and that was the plan of salvation. Using four pumpkins, Betsy Bost explained how the seeds and pulp inside represent our sins and when we ask forgiveness Jesus takes the bad stuff out to make us clean.

Sandi sees this year as a success not just because of the fun and fellowship or because of the 500 hundred hot dogs served. No, Sandi sees this year as a success because … “through sharing the gospel of salvation, we now have four new brothers and sisters in Christ and that’s what it’s all about.”

Does your church, school or community sponsor a fall festival? What is your favorite part of the event? Share your experience or memories by leaving a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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Favorite #159: Piedmont Classical Iron, LLC

Conley Myers putting the finishing touches on my new hand rail. Love the look. Thanks, Conley.

Conley Myers putting the finishing touches on my new handrail. My mom and I love it.

A Labor of Love

Living in the West Rowan area near Salisbury, NC, I’m surrounded by neighbors willing to lend a hand when someone is sick or in need. A couple of weeks ago when my mom moved in with me, it wasn’t long until my next door neighbor, Conley Myers, stopped by asking what he could do to help.

Conley owns Piedmont Classical Iron, LLC, so I quickly explained I could use some handrails. A few days later Conley was on my front steps putting up the most beautiful handrails ever. Conley is proud of the legacy and work ethic associated with Piedmont Classical having inherited the business from his dad, Joe Myers, who passed away in 2013.

Growing up on a dairy farm and later serving in the Air Force, Joe had a gift for fixing things. He even taught himself to weld. As a young man living at Myrtle Beach with his wife, Bonnie, Joe heard stories of an expert blacksmith named Richard Johnson. Wanting to learn the trade, Joe stopped by Richard’s one day and asked if he would teach him.  At first Richard said he didn’t have the time, but as luck would have it not long after that conversation, Richard received a large order and needed help. It was then Joe began working with Richard, learning how to make handrails.

Joe soon discovered Richard had learned to blacksmith from a guy in Morocco who had been friends with Pablo Picasso. Joe couldn’t remember the guy’s name, but felt lucky to meet him when he came to visit. Joe said, “He spoke a language I didn’t understand, but the hammer and anvil spoke for him. Getting to work with him were some of the most memorial moments of my life. I actually met the teacher who taught the teacher.”

In 1991 Bonnie and Joe came home to live, moving in with Bonnie’s parents, Margaret and Melvin Shook, next door to me. While there, Joe began experimenting in the old barn with his new love of blacksmith work. One day in the barn, Joe picked up a nail, bending it into the shape of a fish. The symbol of the fish stands for “fishers of men,”  while the nail is symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Gradually the idea for a new business called Ironfish took shape. Ironfish is a name taken from the Bible, describing how as Christians we should be “fishers of men”.

Although the idea seemed to come out of nowhere, Joe always believed it was God inspired as a result of his Emmaus walk. It was through the Emmaus walk he began to understand what the life of Jesus meant and how as Christians we’re supposed to have a personal relationship with him.

With both businesses flourishing everyone was shocked to learn in the spring of 2013 that Joe had leukemia. A few months later he passed away. Conley knew now it was up to him to continue his dad’s legacy. Although he had some knowledge of the business Conley said he has learned some things by trial and error and often asks, “What would Dad do?”

Little did Joe know years ago when forming his business ventures how far reaching his talents would extend and what a testimony he would leave behind. People around the world now have purchased items such as key rings, pins and pendants through Ironfish, as a symbol of their Christian beliefs. Through the efforts of Piedmont Classical people are enjoying beautiful handrails made first by Joe and now Conley.

To learn more about Piedmont Classical Iron, LLC, contact Conley through his Facebook page or website. To learn more about Ironfish, check out the website link here.

Have you made a purchase from Piedmont Classical Iron, or Ironfish?  Did you know Joe? If so, share some of his stories or leave a comment below, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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Favorite #158: Vietnam War Veterans

Elizabeth Marxwell Steele Chapter DAR Regent, Kim Edds, in front of a display about the Vietnam War.

Elizabeth Maxwell Steele DAR Regent, Kim Edds, stands in front of a display honoring Vietnam War Veterans at the commemoration ceremony in Salisbury, NC.

Recognition and Thanks At Last

The United States of America along with individuals and organizations across this country are finally recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of the Vietnam War Veterans.  In September, the Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution along with the Central Carolina Chapter of the Military Officer Association of America (MOAA) recognized forty-two Vietnam Veterans during a commemoration ceremony at the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center in Salisbury, NC.

The Vietnam Veterans were honored with a certificate of service, a label pin and a proclamation signed by President Obama commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Each veteran also received a bumper sticker that said, Vietnam Veteran-I Served.

DAR member Cathy Foster spent hours planning and co-ordinating the event, with others stepping up to make the ceremony a success through volunteering time, money and donations. Local caterer, Debbie Suggs donated a delicious meal which included country-style steak, vegetables, bread and dessert. Retired Rowan County District Attorney Bill Kenerly was the keynote speaker. Serving in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine, he shared not only about his time there, but also about other men he knew who didn’t make it home.

During the ceremony as each veteran received their certificate, the emotions felt could be seen in their eyes. Some fought back tears. Others said this was the first time they had been thanked. One of the veterans being honored served in three wars. Colonel John Gray not only served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, but suffered injuries in all three. Now in his 90’s, he has written Called to Honor, a book about his experiences available on Amazon.com.

At the closing of the ceremony I had the privilege and honor to deliver the benediction, thanking God for opening our eyes to the importance of recognizing those who served in Vietnam. In some small way, hopefully this gives closure to a generation who did what their country called them to do. A certificate or a thank-you can’t erase the horrors of war, but it’s a start.

Do you know someone who served in Vietnam? Call and say thanks. You never know when it will be too late.

Thank you,




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Favorite #157: 2015 Little League World Series Champions

Enjoying the moment as Little League Softball World Champions.

The RoCo team from Salisbury, NC, celebrating  as 2015 Little League World Series Champions.

Champions Both On and Off the Field

Salisbury, NC, was put on the national stage this summer by a group of talented young girls who won the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon. Once the team arrived in Portland, not only did they make a statement on the field, but off as well, showing love and compassion by taking up money to purchase book bags for a team from Uganda whose luggage was lost in flight. With so much excitement back home, even the elderly admitted staying up past bedtime to watch the final two games on ESPN.

Although the team from Salisbury known as RoCo (Salisbury’s in Rowan County) was not given much of a chance to win, heart and determination changed the outcome of that prediction. Honored with parades, banners, newspaper articles and recognition after arriving home the girls were proud how they brought the local community together. Even leaders and officials such as Greg Edds, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, commended the team. Some said this was the greatest accomplishment Salisbury (Rowan County) had ever seen.

I had the opportunity to speak with several of the grandmothers a few days after the team arrived home. I saw Judy Safley, Kaylin Dowling’s grandmother at a local restaurant known as Mario’s Family Style Dinner. She was wearing a t-shirt with the names of the players on the back. As she came over to my table she had a big smile and proud as could be. She said what impressed her most about the whole experience was how well the girls played together as a team. When one player was down, or discouraged, the other players picked her up, encouraging her to “shake it off”. The girls didn’t play for personal gain, but for the “betterment” of the whole team. Later in the week, I saw Linda Hartsell, grandmother of Allison Ennis at the Cleveland Post Office. She also shared how excited everyone was and how proud. She even stopped a few friends coming out of the post office, saying, Have you heard?

Lucinda Wilhelm, the mother of Ellie Wilhelm, said life after the World Series has been surreal.  The outpouring of love and support the community at large has shown all of the girls has been overwhelming. People we don’t know approach us with congratulations.  Officials have thanked us for the manner in which we represented our hometown, our state, and our country.  Our community has made my daughter and all of the girls feel like hometown heroes.  As parents, we have admired their work ethic, display of sportsmanship and compassion on the field and off the field.  We have admired how humble they remained throughout the journey that began in June.  For others to be able to see this first hand and recognize it, is overwhelming, even indescribable. So, while it is great to be congratulated for a win, it is an even better feeling to be thanked for the way we act both off and on the field.

Dr. Steve Yang was happy to share recently some of his thoughts not only as a coach, but as a proud dad. His daughter, Ellen, was on the little league team. He said, Ellen is a 7th grader at Knox Middle School and during the welcome home parade, at least 15 Knox faculty were holding signs cheering for her along with every other player. It made me proud Ellen is a student at Knox Middle School. During the celebration at the park after the parade, multiple “young and future” softball players wanted pictures and autographs with the all-star players.

Only the beginning of accolades and recognition for the team, Dr. Yang and Ellen had a similar experience a few days later in the Verizon store. He said, “Every employee and almost every customer came up to us and congratulated us. My daughter said, “I don’t know any of these people.” I told her “it doesn’t matter, everyone knows you now!”

Members of the 2015 Little League World Series Team include Kaylin Dowling, Allison Ennis, Kary Hales, Caylie Keller, Caitlin Mann, Kali Morton, Taylor Sanborn, Megyn Spicer, Liza Simmerson, Jaden Vaughn, Taylor Walton, Ellie Wilhelm and Ellen Yang.  Coaches were Dr. Steve Yang, Rob Hales and Eric Dowling.

Congratulations, RoCo Little League Softball World Series Champions. You may be young, but you have the maturity and grace of young ladies much older. The wisdom and poise you exhibited both off and on the field was a joy to behold. The answers you gave when microphones and cameras were thrown in your face made everyone proud. It’s obvious you have wonderful parents, grandparents and coaches who understand what it takes to make well-rounded players into champions. Way to go, RoCo! Can’t wait until next year.

Do you have any stories or comments to share about this awesome team? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.











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