Story by Christina Hedding
The Village of Florida Little League opened their season on Sat., Apr. 22 with a celebration of 40 years at their fields on Round Hill Rd. According to Florida Lions Club president, Annie Zembovictz, the land for the fields was donated to the Little League by former Florida Lions Club member Louis H. Sherwin 40 years ago with the intention that it be turned into little league fields. Since then, the Florida Little League has called the fields home and started many fun-filled seasons on the land.
During the opening ceremony, Florida Little League president Jay Phillips spoke about the Lions Club and the members of the community who make the Little League possible. He then invited Alex Sarki and Glenn DeJong to speak about Andrea Cushing, a beloved member of the Florida community and a big part of the Little League. Andrea passed away last year.
Alex Sarki, Andrea Cushing’s sister, spoke about Andrea’s love of the Little League and how she dedicated so much of her time to it. Sarki also shared that her sister’s one constant complaint was that there was nowhere on the fields for spectators and parents to escape the harsh sunrays during games. She was happy that the tree planted on the home team’s side of the field will grow with the Little League and stand as a reminder of Andrea and her dedication.
Glenn DeJong also shared his memories of Andrea, saying that she was a hard worker both on and off the field. He recalled how when the League asked her husband, Steve, to be team agent, it somehow fell upon Andrea instead. DeJong said that no one worked as hard as Andrea to make sure all the players submitted birth certificates and proof of residency in Florida. He also spoke about how Andrea was there to coach and watch her three sons through the years in the League as well. He concluded, saying that the tree will serve as a reminder of Andrea’s dedication to the Florida Little League as well as her constant search for shade. The teams, parents, and community members all applauded after the tree dedication.
The dedication was followed by the raising of the American flag by the American Legion Post 1250 in Florida. Then Florida resident, Isabella Florentino, sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Phillips then acknowledged the local officials and community members present to celebrate opening day with the League. Local representative Paul Ruszkiewicz; Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton; Florida Mayor Jim Pawliczek; and Florida board members Thomas Fuller, Craig Olejniczak, Brian Slattery and John Barzcak were all present to participate in the opening ceremony. Phillips also mentioned how trustees Fuller and Slattery were two of the original Little League coaches 40 years ago when the new fields were opened.
Phillips then invited Vince Poloniak and Councilman Mickey Shuback to throw out the first pitches of the season. Phillips thanked everyone present and gave a big thanks to all the coaches and parents. Cries of “play ball” came from the crowd and the Florida Little League season officially began.
To view more photos of the event visit our website at www.wvdispatch.com or our Facebook page.