By Tamika Matthews, Belvoir EagleApril 15, 2011
FPRT BELVOIR, Va. - Fort Belvoir Little League may have had to postpone its opening day ceremonies Saturday, but it more than made up for it with its colorful display of pomp and circumstance Monday night at the 21st Street Baseball Complex.
Teams lined up outside the baseball field before filing onto the diamond, with youngsters waving their caps and smiling as they took their place in front of a placard bearing the team name.
Youth Sports Director Jerry Arrington introduced Little League President Bill Behring, congratulating him on his 39th year with the program and calling him "a major asset to everything we do here."
Behring then took the field and, with his trademark lighthearted jokes, offered several anecdotes about the children he's seen grow up in the program.
"I've still got kids in their 30s and 40s who call me and say, 'Coach Bill, pick up the phone,'"
Behring said. "Even at that age, they'll always be my kids, and it still just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling every time they call me."
Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula also addressed the crowd, thanking everyone involved with the program from coaches, to parents, to employees and volunteers to much applause from the audience.
Strycula also addressed the players and reminded them of the many lessons they stood to learn during the upcoming season.
"Everyone knows you're going to win some games, and you're going to lose some games - let's get that out of the way now and say it up front," he said. "But you're here to get out there, learn the sport, play hard and have fun. That's what it's all about."
Arrington and Behring then returned to the field to assist Strycula, who tossed a ceremonial pitch to a player on each team.
Behring said the league included 13 tee-ball teams this year, a record number for the program, and also included two girls softball teams for the first time.
After the final pitch was thrown, a player from each team approached the pitcher's mound to recite the Little League Pledge in unison, and the audience rose for the national anthem.
As the familiar strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner" receded in the evening sky, they served as a reminder that another Little League season has arrived at Belvoir.