In October 2016, tragedy struck the East Coast in the form of Hurricane Matthew, leaving up to 18 inches of rain across the state of North Carolina, but for Greenville Little League, it was the game of baseball that brought the community back together to rebuild.
From the first week in March until the Little League Baseball® World Series is over in August, Greenville Little League baseball is a way of life for the members of the community with an on-field rivalry between the North State and Tar Heel divisions of its Major Division that runs as deep as that of North Carolina and Duke to those who are a part of it.
“It truly is a rivalry between two leagues when we’re going at it,” said Cory Scott, a manager in the Tar Heel Division. “But once that game between us is over, that rivalry turns into a family and it’s really all about Greenville.”
Following the destruction left behind by Hurricane Matthew, that rivalry was put to the side as members of both divisions joined together, thanks to the help of a core group of volunteers. Mike Vaughn, Cory Scott, Brian Fagundus, and Norm Bryant, quickly organized a home run derby and two-day baseball tournament to raise money in order to help those members of the community that were affected by the flood.
“When you think about Greenville Little League and our community, us as managers are very, very lucky to be a part of it,” said Mr. Scott. “The community is such a big part of what we do, that we wanted to go out and do something for our community to show that we’re not just going out there asking them to support us, but we are going to be out there supporting them as well.”
The idea for the event, which drew 80 participants through three age divisions in the home run derby and 96 players for the two-day tournament, came when Mr. Vaughn got a phone call and heard that two Greenville players, Ahmad Johnson and Cash Daniel-Moye, had been living in hotels due to the damage done by the storm.
“I was coming back from Florida when I got the phone calls and text messages from team moms about both these kids and I had to figure out a way to help them,” said Mr. Vaughn. “I thought about everyone in Little League that I knew would be on board with this and started with Cory, Bryan, and Norm. Without the help of these other guys, it would’ve just been a plan that wouldn’t have turned into an action.”
The plan quickly turned around as the four men worked with other league managers, coaches, and volunteers to combine the rival divisions together for a weekend out at Elm Street Park to raise money and lift spirits for the community. Each manager was asked to go out and obtain four sponsors for the event, while local organizations came flooding in looking to support the events with donations, team jerseys, raffle items, and everything else needed to make the event a success.
“So many people in this city played Little League Baseball,” said Mr. Scott. “It’s one organization in Greenville that nobody second guesses about helping out.”
Through the help of the local sponsorships and additional money raised from the event, Greenville Little League was able to raise more than $20,000 in a month’s time for those members of the community in need and on the Friday night of the event, presented a check for $10,000 to Mayor Allen Thomas for the city. The additional funds that were raised were dedicated towards the two players and a coach that had lost everything due to the damage caused by the flood. While the rivalry between the North State and Tar Heel divisions will forever remain, the family bond between the members of Greenville Little League and the community will be something that is cherished by all.
“Without our community, we don’t have a league,” said Mr. Scott. “Our community supports our kids, it supports our coaches, it supports our program. It allows us to reach out and touch families from all over through the greatest game. Without the help of our community, none of this would be possible.”