More than 900 athletes and coaches lined up on NCO Academy Field and raised their right hands to take an oath administered by Command Sgt. Maj. Yolanda M. Tate, Fort Bragg Garrison command sergeant major.
“Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
With the first soccer kick, football and tennis throw and pom-pom pass of the season, the Fort Bragg Youth Sports and Fitness 2012 Fall Sports Opening Ceremony kicked off the season, Saturday.
The ceremony began with the national anthem and the introduction of the 50 youth sports teams. Children from ages 4 up to 18 marched on the field with colorful banners.
Traditional team names such as Redskins, Bears, Lions and Saints were mixed in with the Flamin’ Lizards, Killer Bees, Rhinos and Kickeroos.
As Adam Huffman, director, Fort Bragg Child, Youth and School Services for sports and fitness, announced each team, parents, friends and other Family members cheered for their favorites.
“It gives a chance for the parents to enjoy coming out, seeing their kids march with their team,” said Huffman.
The spring and fall opening day ceremonies have been a tradition since the early 1980s, said Patti Turner, Fort Bragg Youth and School Age Services chief.
Sgt. Maj. Toby Grisham, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), has been involved in coaching for six years.
“Soccer, baseball and now football with my son, Dawson,” said Grisham.
Coach Charles Bennett, head coach for the Fort Bragg Redskins, believes sports are only one aspect of a youth’s life.
“I believe that academics is what it’s all about. We love to win but it’s more than about life. So we try to teach good character,
“He talks to them about playing as a team, never quitting, never giving up and having fun. That’s a great thing for young boys at that age,” added Grisham.
Bennett, a former 82nd Airborne Division Soldier, coached his son from the age of 9 until he played in high school.
“Now he’s a special agent with the FBI,” said Bennett. “He started right here at Fort Bragg.”
The Harris children, Jazmyne, 9, Ashtyn 8 and Molly, 6, were very excited to begin the new season. “I liked marching in with my squad,” said Ashtyn.
“This is great for the children, said Christina Harris, the girls’ mother.
After the oath, Tate kicked the first soccer ball to Kirsten Waskwich; Raymond Lacey, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, threw the first pass to Nicholas Galvan; Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McIntosh, NCO Academy commandant, threw the first serve to Logan Boyce; and Karen Miller, CYSS chief, handed the first pom-pom to Tava Surles.
When the ceremony was over, each athlete was ready to hear two words, “Play ball.”