Past players and coaches from the Greater Pineville Athletic Association joined recently to play in their inaugural GPAA Softball Reunion Tournament at Jack Hughes Park.The GPAA was the name of the organization that coordinated team sports for Pineville and the surrounding area from 1989 through the late ’90s. GPAA offered baseball, softball, basketball and cheerleading. The organization grew to include Ballantyne and changed its name to the Pineville-Ballantyne Community Athletic Association, also known as PCAA.Justin Russell, who lives in Maryland, decided to use Facebook as a way to reconnect with his old teammates, and rivals, to coordinate a reunion tournament. He said that it all began by posting a photograph of the ball he used to hit his first home run in Little League on May 18, 1993.“This was my childhood and it is exciting that after 20 years, people are still interested,” said Russell.There were three teams and 39 players, playing in a single elimination tournament July 13. The teams were named after their coaches: John Roberts, Skeet Boger and Bill Lockrem.“We are excited to see everyone together again,” said Boger, a resident of Lake Park.Boger said that he coached for 10 years, including every baseball division except T-ball. He coached his sons, Vann and Brian Boger, who are now 34 and 32 years old, and again during the reunion tournament.Children and families mingled in the bleachers while the players warmed up on the field. Some were meeting for the first time, others reconnecting after 10-20 years. There were even parents of players, back in the stands, cheering on their children.“It is fun to see how all the kids have grown up,” said Linda Roberts, mother of players Michael and Matthew. Some of the players played catch with their children while waiting for the tournament to begin, passing the tradition on to the next generation.The game started with a ceremonial opening pitch, in memory of John Spencer, past coach, and Chris Sauls, past player. The two were represented by Susan Spencer, John Spencer’s wife, and David Sauls, Chris Sauls’ father.In the end, Team Lockrem won bragging rights until next year.“It was great … a chance to turn back, to reminisce and catch up on our lives today,” said Jim Eschert, former commissioner, coach and vice president of the GPAA’s board of directors.“This group is just a small part of a much bigger history of what baseball has been played in the town of Pineville. I truly hope that this continues to grow and expand.”After the game, on the Facebook group page, Where Has The Time Gone GPAA Reunion, players complained of bruised body parts and bruised egos, but, overall, they were looking forward to next year’s game.
Friday, Jul. 19, 2013
Charlotte softball reunion brings back players from 20 years ago
Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Crystal? Email her at email@example.com.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less