By GARY STALLARD
When all anyone else could see were trees and heavy equipment, Dr. Larry Phillips was already envisioning families enjoying spring days at the ballpark.
Contractors began the clearing and construction process for the new Angelina College baseball and softball complex back in the summer of 2008. Phillips, then the AC president, periodically would stroll across the campus to check the progress. He’d shown everyone who would look the graphic maps of the proposed facility, yet he seemed to be one of the only ones who truly could see how it would look 10 years later.
The “new” fields held their Opening Day ceremonies on Feb. 6, 2010, with both the Lady Roadrunner softball team and the Roadrunner baseball team in action. Phillips was on-hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitches in each arena.
Today, the complex looks exactly the way he hoped it would look.
The facilities are considered some of the region’s finest, a destination for numerous high school and collegiate tournaments. Phillips had already predicted they would be so.
However, the complex also serves in the exact capacity he dreamed it would: Entire families sprawl across the stands, the picnic tables and the grassy areas. Some sit on behind the fences in trucks. There are no bad seats on either field.
Between the baseball and softball fields is a large, open area – and all that was part of the original plan. On any given game day, kids scatter everywhere, chasing foul balls or balls they brought themselves. “Game Day” isn’t just for the big kids wearing uniforms. It’s also for the little guys and girls dreaming big of one day standing on the diamonds instead of outside them.
Angelina College will recognize Phillips’ vision in a dedication ceremony scheduled for Thursday, April 19. On that day, the college will re-name the entire facility the Larry Phillips Family Sports Complex. The first 200 hundred fans through the gate will receive t-shirts, and the first 200 children ages seven and under will receive wiffle balls and bats.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the facility’s front gate. At 6 p.m., the Roadrunner baseball team will host Panola College in a conference matchup.
As the big guys battle it out on the diamond, there will very likely be a wiffle ball game going on right behind the bleachers.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.
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