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Shuman, Thomas help open VLPRA's youth baseball, softball season

posted Apr 25, 2017, 8:20 AM by KRISTAL DAWSON
Thomas and Shuman
Glendon Poe | The Valdosta Daily Times

The Valdosta Daily Times, April 18, 2017:
VALDOSTA — Walking out on a youth softball field just before a game brought back memories for Valdosta baseball coach Bart Shuman and Lowndes softball coach Stewart Thomas.

The two coaches each tossed a ceremonial first pitch on opening day of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority's youth baseball and softball season at the Vallotton Youth Athletic Complex on Monday evening.

"It does bring back old memories," Shuman said. "A lot of good players have come through here and it's a fun time of year for these kids."

While Shuman has watched his kids have their experience growing up around the diamond, Thomas is just reaching that point as a parent with his 5-year-old son, who will play his first baseball game (today).

"I have a little daughter that will come through and start playing before too long. So it's just fun seeing kids getting involved with positive things," Thomas said.

"I know coach Bart (Shuman) probably had a couple of sons come through the rec. department. I came through the rec. department in my hometown, so it's just awesome to see kids get involved."

For Jesse Sheeley, the VLPRA's youth athletic supervisor, it was his 21st opening day with the Authority. He invited the two coaches to come be a part of the event after seeing the years of work they've both done around youth athletics.

"Lowndes and Valdosta and coach Shuman and coach Thomas have always done a real good job offering to put on clinics and everything," he said. "Whenever I reached out to them, both of them were very receptive and they thanked us for letting them be a part of it.

"These kids will hopefully grow up to play for both of them, whether it's Lowndes, Valdosta, baseball softball."

The VLPRA offers baseball, softball and T-ball twice a year. The Authority has nine leagues for ages 3-12.

"These kids need stuff to do and this is great place to bring them out, a good family atmosphere and it's just all positive," Shuman said.