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Fields of dreams

Softball league christens new park at Kemps Mill

Softball league christens new park at Kemps Mill

May 06, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Move over Kevin Costner. Meet Steve Danfelt.

Costner, the star of the hit movie "Field of Dreams," in which a baseball aficionado sacrifices to build a ballpark in a cornfield so that some of baseball's greatest players will return to play there, may have more notoriety than Danfelt, but he certainly didn't have more fields or players.

Danfelt, president of the Washington County Girls softball league, watched a dream that started over seven years ago become reality Saturday as the Kemps Mill Softball Complex celebrated opening day ceremonies.

The complex, which will soon become a Washington County park, has three ASA certified women's softball fields built on the site of a former landfill.

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But amid all the balloons, flags, cheering crowds and neatly attired softball players, the amount of volunteer time, donated funds and the desire to see a home for a league that services over 40 teams and 600 girls was the obvious theme of this day.

"What you see here wasn't done by one person," Danfelt said. "What you see here is the final product of the hard work of a community."

The process actually started under former league president Kevin Graff, but the league was stonewalled when attempting to find suitable ground to begin the project. When a local little league turned down the area in Kemps Mill, Danfelt saw an opening.

"We contacted the league attorney and (Williamsport) mayor John Slayman," Danfelt said. "They told us to go to the commissioners and get the ball rolling."

Danfelt said he was greeted with open arms by the parks and recreation group and the commissioners. He said commissioner Greg Snook was very active in seeing the project progress.

Snook is out of the area and was unavailable for the festivities, but Doris Nipps was on hand for the opening and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"We decided to make a major committment to this group," Nipps said. "So often, women are left behind, especially in the area of recreational opportunities."

Jim Sterling, Washington County supervisor of Buildings, Parks and Grounds, agreed with Nipps.

"There was a real need," Sterling said. "With Project Open Space and the commissioner's help, it got done."

Danfelt praised Sterling's involvement in the program, saying that his planning, manpower and resources were tantamount to the completion of the fields.

The added advantage is that other programs in softball will be able to expand, according to Washington County Recreation Facilities Coordinator Dave Brooks.

"Our co-ed softball league at Pinesburg went from six to nine teams this year because this park opened," Brooks said. "This is a fastpitch park and now those other leagues have more field time available at other facilities."

As Danfelt surveyed the games and fans enjoying the opening festivities, he pointed out the areas where the park will expand, adding a concession stand and restrooms.

But that soon gave way to the real reason the park was opened.

"Do you know what the greatest thing about all of this is?" Danfelt asked. "When a parent comes up to me and says, 'I know where my kid is. She's at the ballpark.'"

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