That man is Cecil Campbell and I admire his efforts and determination to make sure he keeps the dream alive. The year was 2000 and Cecil teamed up with two other gentleman, Steve Athey and Sam Johnson to form the Warrenton Fauquier Community Baseball. The group suffered a very personal loss with the UN-timely passing of Steve Athey a few years ago. Cecil joined forces with the Athey family in their efforts to continue to give back to the town and community they live in.
The Fauquier Gators are just the most visible part of their efforts to help the youth of Warrenton and Fauquier County prepare for the future. Education through Sports is the message of the day for the group and they don't veer from the path. The club started play in the Clark Griffith League before making the move to the VBL back prior to the 2007 campaign. I must admit that I didn't know the story until I started looking closer at the Gators Web Site.
I had a chance to visit with Cecil again earlier in the week and while I am not going to quote him as if we were doing an interview, just talk about the respect that I have for his and the Athey Family efforts with their community.Cecil played high school sports at Fauquier High School years ago and was fortunate enough to get recruited to North Carolina State University to play for the Wolf Pack. I must admit that while Cecil is a few years older now I think he could still put on the shoulder pads and put a hurtin on folks.
It is a great story if it ends there with a small town boy getting to play D-I football in the ACC but for Cecil the journey was just getting started. Cecil returned home to Warrenton and set up shop in his home town and went searching for ways to give back to the community. Fast forward a few years and he joins forces with Steve Athey. I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time with the Athey family during my first visit to Warrenton and that is when I was able to take the next step in my understanding of the commitment of the entire group.
The first thing you will notice when you arrive for a Gators game is that you will not be charged the $5.00 for admission. The team is run as a non-profit organization to help the town and their money is raised on other fronts. I would like to think the second thing you will notice is the sign that tells you that this is Steve Athey Memorial Field. The atmoshpere is very casual at the park and you will often find that Mrs.Athey has some home made goodies available at the concession stand. There was some great home made pie available my last time through.
The golf tournament that the Gators hold each season as a Fund Raiser is called the Steve Athey Memorial Golf Tournament with the proceeds reaching $25,000.00 last year. When the team was in search of a coach to lead the team on the diamond they didn't look very far. Paul Koch (pronounced Coke) is the High School coach at Fauquier. These guys had a dream, not a scheme and they remain on course by honoring their friend and continuing to try and reach the area youth through Sports in Education every day. A group of true Home Town Heroes...
While you are there and that $5.00 is still in your pocket you can invest in one of the top VBL team programs for a $1.00 and if you are lucky maybe Mrs. Athey made a pie that night. You should also take a good look at the outfield grass at the park as I would argue it is top of the charts in the VBL...
We crossed paths with the Gators a few times in 2008 and here is how it went:
1.June 2ND- Home- ATV-60 Tour Stop - Loss 10-4 or 6 to Luray
2.June 27TH- Away - Loss 15-5 @ Luray
3.June 28TH- Home- Swept DH from Staunton 10-2 & 4-2
4.July 5TH - Away - Dropped DH @ Covington 6-4 & 10-5
5.July 7TH- Away - Washed out @ Harrisonburg
6.July 12TH- Away - Win 4-2 @ Luray
7.July 19TH- Home - Loss to Waynesboro 6-2
8.July 21ST- Away - Split DH @ Harrisonburg 3-4 & 6-2
9.July 24TH-Away- @ Luray Win 3-2
Home (3)(4) 2-2
Total (9) (12) 5-6-1
Congrats on the 2008 3RD seed and best of luck in 2009!
Given a chance, the trek over to Warrenton is a nice ride...