The Rockmart Little League Baseball and Rockmart Girls Softball League each held its opening day ceremonies and parade on Saturday as warm weather hit its peak.
“We have a fine turnout this year,” Rockmart Little League Baseball president Lucas Culver told the crowd that turned out at Dean Field.
“We’ve got some of the best players and some of the best parents in the state and are looking forward to a great season.”
After a parade that traveled from the new City of Rockmart offices down Marble Street and onto Elm Street, both organizations took to their respective fields at the Nathan Dean Sports Complex and recognized this year’s players and coaches.
For the first time, the girls' softball league is affiliated with the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association instead of Little League Softball.
While Rockmart league president Chris Wolfe admits the decision to change was tough, he sees the move as an advantage.
“It has given us more ability to play teams form different areas, like Cartersville and Cedartown,” Wolfe said. “The rules are Junior Olympic rules which the girls will play by now through college.”
During the Little League baseball ceremony, Culver expressed his excitement over having a 13- ad 14-year-olds division in Rockmart again.
“It’s something that we’ve struggled with over the last few years and we’re glad to have them back,” Culver said, adding that he hopes to be able to increase the number of teams in the division from three to six in the future.
The group also extended awards to a pair of gentlemen who have been a part of Rockmart Little League for many years.
The Forsyth Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Emmett Johnson, who served as a coach for 15 years with Rockmart Little League and has been a large part of its history.
Culver then presented a plaque to umpire Lee Hayes to commemorate 50 years of service and dedication to Rockmart and Polk County Little League Baseball.
“Lee started playing baseball when he was 5-years-old … since then it has grown in his blood and we’re glad to have him,” Culver said. “He’s an outstanding umpire and has been the Rockmart Little League umpire chief for many years.”
Hayes threw out the ceremonial first pitch with his son, Jeremy, behind the plate to catch.
In the Rockmart Girls Softball opening ceremony, Rockmart mayor Curtis Lewis spoke and Rockmart High School senior and All-State pitcher Kaitie Kiser threw out the first pitch.
Kiser, who grew up playing in the youth softball program, led the Lady Jackets to the Class AA state runner-up spot in 2009 and was named the Rome News-Tribune Player of the Year for her efforts. She is now an umpire with the league.