Twenty-five teams with players of all ages and genders lined the field aboard NAS Jacksonville March 4 during the Navy Ortega Lake Shore (NOL) Little League opening ceremony.
The ceremony kicked off with music by Navy Band Southeast. The band performed numerous selections from, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," to "When The Saints Go Marching In."
Players took the field and proudly waved American flags. Teams use the names of many of the big league teams including Cubs, Royals, Braves, and even a special Pink Pirates. T-ball, machine pitch, softball and baseball players removed their caps and rendered honors when the band played the national anthem. All coaches and numerous volunteers were recognized.
The Shotty Drew award for sportsmanship was presented to Tripp Larkin who also led the players in reciting the Little League pledge. Special teams who competed last year also had players recognized. The NOL began on NAS Jacksonville in 1960. Most of the upkeep of the fields is performed by volunteers. Due to damage from Hurricane Matthew, the dugouts needed reconstructing and were literally finished just before the day of the opening ceremony.
NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley threw out the first pitch. Haley highlighted the interaction of the leagues playing aboard the base.
"As the father of two older boys, I fully appreciate the positive impact that sports have on the development of our youth, and we are very fortunate to assist in that effort by supporting NOL here. The community partnership between NOL and NAS Jax is very important to us and one that I know will continue for many more years," said Haley.