On Friday and Saturday, volunteers who had been working all year, without pay, for Lower Sussex and other Little Leagues marched outside, in tremendous heat, carrying rakes, hoses, and edging tools.
They edged grass, lined bases, dragged fields, laid down chemicals to keep the infields perfect for play and didn’t take much time to marvel at their work. After a season of dedicated volunteer work, a group took time last weekend and throughout the week to prepare the fields for the biggest event of the year: the Senior League Softball World Series.
“I just do it because I love it,” said Joe Lucido, the superintendent of the Bethany Bay golf course, who no longer has kids in the league but still volunteers year-round. “That’s what I do for a living. I don’t mind helping out.”
Tracy Littleton, another Lower Sussex volunteer, said that he started volunteering for similar reasons. His kids were involved, so he was involved. Because of hard work put in throughout the season, though, this week’s work preparing for the international spotlight wasn’t as grueling as in years past.
“They really did a good job as far as keeping fields up through the regular season,” Littleton said. “There wasn’t a lot to do. Joe does a nice job.”
Since obtaining the hosting rights for the Senior League World Series, the complex, and the two fields used for postseason play in particular, have been put on what Lucido calls a “program.”
Twice a year, he said, he and other Lower Sussex volunteers spray a chemical on the fields to help with weed control. Another four-step program throughout the year also helps to keep the fields in pristine condition.
Two applications of fertilizer to control crabgrass applied in the first two quarters, an herbicide for clovers and dandelions, and insecticide finish the quarterly-step program.
“In my opinion, the fields look awesome,” Lucido said. “Of course, everything could always be better, but we’ve had a lot of compliments.”
Along with edging, dragging the fields, applying chemicals and lining the bases, volunteers this week also irrigated the fields that will be used by 10 teams starting this weekend — perhaps paving the way for more compliments.
And it wasn’t just Lower Sussex volunteers braving the hot conditions to volunteer their time. Butch Nelson, a perennial Millsboro volunteer, visited the complex this weekend with a crew of about seven volunteers from that league.
“The president of (Lower Sussex Little League), Bruce Layton, called me three years ago. He asked me to come down and get ready for World Series because they didn’t have any help,” Nelson said. “That’s why we came down,” he added, saying that he and the Millsboro crew will also be working on the grounds between games starting this weekend.
Likely more than a dozen volunteers, many of whom worked through heat this weekend, will continue to serve, starting on Sunday and going throughout the week. They will drag, spray and line fields between each game and continue to try to provide the best service possible for the third annual pairing of hosting Lower Sussex Little League and the Senior League Softball World Series.
“I like the kids to play on decent fields,” said Donald Stevens, another year-round volunteer who helped this week and will help during the tournament. “I go out there when I can. It’s just kind of a group effort. Everybody helps.”