I have been mentioning all along that the ownership group that makes up the Valley Baseball
League have very different approaches to the game they all love. When you make the trip over to Warrenton to catch a Gators home game you won't be there long before you notice the first thing different about the operation-the Gators do not charge for admission.
Cecil Campbell and Steve Athey set out back in 2000 with a mission statement and a vision of the things they wanted to accomplish in Fauquier County and eight years later they are right on course.
"For us it is all about the community," Campbell said. "We think we live in a pretty neat community and it is more important to have a fan base then to have revenue. We raise our money through fund raisers and our golf tournament."
The golf tournament Cecil mentioned is slated for Monday June 16th at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket. It will be the 4th Annual Steve Athey Memorial Golf Tournament and there is a page on their website at http://www.fauquiergators.org/ for more information.
The golf tourney covers two things very near and dear to the Gator family. Not only does it raise money for all the group does for their community but it also pays tribute to Cecil's partner Steve Athey.
When Steve passed away a few years back it left a void for everyone in the organization on all levels because this club is the truest form of a Family Operation. Steve's daughter Alison, his son Brian and wife Mary rallied together with Cecil to keep the vision on track. Cecil also made sure we included Alison's husband Mike (takes care of things @ Evergreen during the day) as well as his wife Becky, Debbie and Gerry Henson, Kara Beebe and Bill Steel among the people who keep things running smooth for the club.
The first thing you notice is the free admission but the sign paying tribute to Steve should be second and the condition of the field should be third. If you haven't been to the field at Fauquier High School lately you are in for a surprise. Cecil made sure the credit went to Mike but I would agree that the condition of the field is at the top of the list in the VBL.
This is the second season the Gators have played in the VBL. The team originally played in the Clark Griffith league and made the move over after the 2006 season. The closest team to the Gators is the Haymarket Senators and the two clubs make for a natural rival. The schedule helped out this year when the two clubs were matched up for the Gators opening night.
"We had our biggest crowd that night, somewhere between 450-500 fans," Campbell added."That was with the rain storm that afternoon, without that there was no telling how big the crowd might of been."
The hospitality I received from the entire group was top of the charts and both Mary and Cecil were quick to point out that Brian and Alison really deserve all of the credit for the clubs success and the teams ability to continue to give back to the community.
"The main goal for us is Education thru sports," Campbell added. "We have started programs to get them to camps when they are 8 years old so they can be prepared to go to college when they are older."
Campbell played ball in high school @ Fauquier and was recruited to play football at N.C State for the Wolfpack. He was fortunate to be surrounded by people to help him along the way and simply wants to do the same for others in his community. One of his favorite topics on the evening was not the glory days of playing ball but his appreciation for the efforts of Alison.
The first time I spoke to Alison on the phone we talked for 20 minutes and I could tell she had a little one nearby. Last night I met Aidan (check out Rebecca's pictures later) and Mom was working away while holding her three week old baby.
Come over to Warrenton and catch a game with the Gators and please go to their web site and read up on all the things they have accomplished in the town of Warrenton.
4 hours until I head out to Front Royal!
Here are some pictures from our trip to Fauquier High School!