The Great River Challenge 2015

Rain was forecast and threatening, I had a baby shower at my house the day before, there were several family birthdays and the beginning of school coinciding with the Great River Challenge; all distractions which made it seem like hours at the ball park would be a challenge to fit into the week-end. Due to a propensity for tardiness, construction traffic at attempted bridge #1, and barge traffic at attempted bridge #2 I arrived several minutes late to the ball park. I was quickly handed what I needed and rushed to the press box where I was given a quick lesson on a new microphone before announcing our National anthem volunteer guest singer and introducing the players for Game One. It was then I sat down and took in the glory of the sun glistening on the river, the verdant green of the field flanked by the shining bridge and Ferris wheel, and an unusual coolness for August, but blessedly, could see no rain in sight.

I was grateful I could rush in to do my small part for the day knowing others had planned, organized, emailed, found sponsors, made T-shirts, set up tables and chairs, hauled tents and coolers, and taken care of every minute detail for these games to flow smoothly.  I was also grateful for everyone who volunteered time and money to make this day possible.

Throughout the day I had several people with me in the press box; some were returning fans and some were new to Challenger Little League. While I was announcing I could hear snippets of their conversations regarding the games. I was touched to learn of the impact our players had on their lives, on their hearts. I can never make it through a day at the Great River Challenge without tears streaming down my face at some point and it seems other people who are not CLL parents have the same reaction to the poignancy of these games. These fans talked about their lives having been changed by experiencing Challenger Little League. It is a wonder our stands are not packed to capacity. The Quad Cities is fortunate to have this incredible event happening here, I am always surprised there are people who live here who have never availed themselves of this joyous opportunity. Every parent who is ever going to enter their child in a sport should attend our game, their child’s sports experience will be different after witnessing the greatest game in the Quad Cities!

One new fan told me she wished the players wore microphones so we could hear them. She was intrigued by what the conversations might be between the runner on second and the two second basemen. She wanted to hear what words were being exchanged between the “bull” runner being blocked on his way home and the “lineman” blocking him who gave him a high-five after they crashed into each other. She didn’t need a mic to know the encouragement being given from the Augustana pitcher to the batters, it was visible in his smile.

Thank you to all who made the 2015 Great River Challenge a successful, joyous event. Thank you to everyone who came to witness our remarkable players reveling in a day of play on a magnificent ball diamond. I know lives were changed. Encourage your friends to attend next year, they will thank you for changing their perspective on life.


photo by: Alex McGill

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” Bob Feller

Mississippi Valley Fair Concerts 2015: Night Two~Reba

As I approached the Locust Street exit off of 280, we saw the long line of cars trying to do the same. It was only 5:45 so I was surprised and disheartened by the crowd approaching the fairgrounds. When I reached the entrance to our usual parking area a sign announced “full lot” and a police officer waved us on by. Although I wanted to continue East on Locust to return home I followed the snake-like line of cars to a parking lot behind the race track.

With a stroke of serendipity my sister-in-law was walking up to our car as I parked, she was concerned that it would be quite a distance for Katie to traverse to get to the concert. I acknowledged that it would be a struggle over the uneven terrain of the parking field and stated that after the concert the previous night she was so spent that I had been tempted to pay off some guy in a golf cart to drive her to our car. This night we brought her trekking poles to make the hike easier. Dear, no-nonsense sis-in-law promptly took matters into her own hands and in her new cowboy boots she marched up to a nearby golf cart, within minutes of speaking to the driver another cart arrived to take Katie to the entrance gate where they waited with her until we caught up to help her disembark from the cart. It was a pleasant start to our night.

After Reba’s performance to 27,600 people, the din in the grandstand was astounding. Even after half the people were gone the sounds of all the voices and movement created an overall racket. We leisurely made our way to our car after wisely stopping at the restrooms. The sounds of the fair floated in our open car windows. In the distance was the music and squeals from the carnival rides and the dings and barker calls from the midway, farther away we could hear a train whistle blowing, and nearby were the shouts of frustrated concert goers who were trying to vacate the congested parking area. Horns were blaring, radios blasting, and girls dancing and singing on top of cars. I announced there was no hurry to leave, we would just wait in the car for awhile before entering the chaotic web of exiting cars.

Katie was resting her head against the back passenger seat for a short time when she stated, “It is so peaceful here.” Merely a moment passed before she burst into laughter and added with lots of chuckling, “Well, compared to in there.”, as she pointed to the grandstand we had left behind.

Perspective folks…..Life is all about perspective.

Reba 2015