Wanda Wynne, a budget manager with ECU's Health Sciences division, devotes her leisure time to the Pitt County Girls' Softball League.
Wynne Takes Active Part in Girls' Softball League
By Judy Currin
Organized recreational activities for girls were nearly non-existent when Wanda Wynne was growing up in rural Pitt County.
“There were a few dance classes around,” said Wynne, budget manager with ECU’s Health Sciences Division. “But generally that was not something that us ‘farm girls’ got involved in.”
When Wynne's two daughters were young, more opportunities existed. She enrolled her girls in Community Schools soccer and basketball programs, along with a local tee-ball team. Roxanne is now a 20-year-old nutrition major at ECU and Abby is a 17-year-old high school senior.
“I first heard about the Pitt County Girls Softball League through a friend,” Wynne said. She enrolled Roxanne in the spring of 1998, the first year the Sara A. Law Memorial Softball Complex opened for play.
“The softball league was started in the autumn of 1992 by a group of parents who wanted to fill the void in local recreational programs that did not offer softball opportunities for girls,” Wynne said.
“The program began with no place to call home. They had to beg and borrow fields all over the county to run the Babe Ruth sanctioned program.”
After a few years, a successful capitol campaign was initiated to purchase land. “Just last year we made the last mortgage payment on the complex, named in memory of Sara Anne Law," Wynne said. A member of the 1994 state champion all-star team, Sara Anne Law passed away in spring 1995, after contracting meningococcal meningitis.
Wynne has served on the board of directors for the non-profit corporation for the past eight years.
“My decision to join the board goes back to the word ‘opportunity,’” she said. “I knew what a wonderful opportunity this league was for my girls and I wanted to be a part of seeing it continue. The league is a wonderful program for all the girls in Pitt County and one I hope no parent or player ever takes for granted.”
Opportunities abound each year for parents and other individuals to take on supportive roles with the Pitt County Girls Softball League. Other than committee service, parents may take an active part in the program by managing or coaching a team, being a team “Mom” or “Dad,” working concessions, or volunteering to work at weekend tournaments.
Dr. Susan Bane of Greenville OB/GYN, an active volunteer coach and parent, was honored at the 2007 opening ceremonies for her contributions to benefit and improve PCGSL, Wynne said. Her gifts to the league include monetary donations as well as development of the hugely successful “PCGSL Sportsmanship Zone,” a program stressing the importance of good sportsmanship before, during and after games.
Colorful signs located all over the ballpark act as reminders for all participants. The signs bear phrases like, “When players and coaches are in defeat, please do not stomp your feet, “or “Victory you make, but don’t forget a handshake!” and “If you did your best then you are a success!”
Beyond a small grant from Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation, the program is supported entirely through raffle ticket sales, fence sign advertisers, team sponsors, travel ball tournaments and discount coupon sales.
Registration begins in February, months before the first pitch is tossed. Evaluation or observation days are held in March.
“Everyone who registers will be placed on a team,” Wynne said. “These evaluations are not really ‘try outs.’ Instead they are sessions at which PCGSL managers and coaches evaluate each girl’s basic skill and playing ability, and place them on teams to even out the competition.”
What was once a passive summer recreational activity for girls is now a passion for many. “Perhaps the most positive benefit is the smile that is derived from watching hundreds of young people from all parts of Pitt County and from every school, public or private, begin friendships that last through the years,” former PCGSL president, Mark Garner said.
“When I reflect on the happiest times spent at the complex, images of the opening ceremonies night are most vivid,” Wynne shared.
Those sights and sounds include "tiny little girls in their softball uniforms running around with tiny pink cleats and gloves, parents with cameras in hand bending and twisting to get the best picture, and the D.J. playing festive music." Wynne also recalled, "the parade of teams on the field, the release of balloons by Jerry and Anne Law in memory of Sara, the singing of the national anthem, recognition of team sponsors and league contributors, the first pitch of the season and Abigail Rowell’s kazoo rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’
"What an opportunity for these young girls,” Wynne said.
In recognition of her devotion to the league, Wynne was inducted into ECU’s Servire Society for the second year during the 2009 Founders Day celebration. Daughter Roxanne was inducted as well, in recognition of her work with Pitt County Memorial Hospital and the Rocking Horse Ranch.
"I was not surprised to hear that she was being recognized for her service to others," said Suzanne Imboden, Health Sciences Financial Services accounting manager and Wynne's supervisor.
"Wanda Wynne is a giving and loyal person and we are fortunate to work with her every day."