While I have covered the NC GameOn Sports travel baseball tournaments this summer, it is hard not to mention what these tournaments means to Halifax County, especially with so many cancellations for other events.
There have been travel baseball tournaments in the county every weekend since July 4. The tournaments have been moved to Halifax because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, and the restrictions the governor of that state has imposed. Their loss has been Halifax County’s gain as each weekend anywhere from 10-50 teams converge on the county for the tournaments.
This weekend, NC GameOn Sports is back for the Battle of the Rings Super Regional, and next weekend more than 80 teams will arrive for the GameOn Sports World Series, which is the biggest event of the summer. The world series was originally scheduled to take place in North Carolina as well, but restrictions in the state made organizers move it to South Boston.
While they wanted to hold the tournament Friday through Sunday, Halifax County Dixie Youth President Dave Ashwell said their league nights are on Friday, and they come first. To accommodate for the condensed schedule, Ashwell said for the World Series they are going to use all four fields at the Day Complex, all of the fields at Cluster Springs and Scottsburg ballparks as well. Ashwell also said the softball and baseball fields at the middle school will be utilized, along with the baseball and possibly softball fields at the high school.
Latonya Sadler Hamilton, Halifax County’s tourism director, talked about how much these tournaments meant to the county a few weeks ago. She mentioned how the coronavirus had hampered most activities this year and that the tournaments are a step forward.
South Boston Speedway has yet to open gates this year, the Virgnia Cantaloupe Festival has been canceled and so has the South Boston Harvest Festival. The fair is ramping way down from year’s past, and there are plenty of other events that have been canceled or postponed throughout the summer that I am missing.
The means the travel baseball tournaments that come to the county each weekend are playing an integral role in tourism dollars. These teams and their coaching staffs and families are coming from as far away as Suffolk and down in Raleigh, Durham, Mebane and Hillsborough. Most are spending two nights in area hotels, buying food from local restaurants, buying gas and other essentials throughout the county That is big for the community given what has happened to tourism this summer.
NC GameOn Sports also makes sure that COVID-19 guidelines are being followed. This isn’t a free for all with 80 teams piling into one place at the same time. The games are spread out all over the county, and games start as early as 8 a.m. and end as late as 8-9 p.m. Social distancing is easy when you have these guidelines set in place, and they are being played in big complexes with plenty of room to spread out.
It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. NC GameOn Sports is allowed to continue to play their tournaments; Halifax County gets the tourism money, the field rental fees and the concession fees and most importantly the kids from near and far are able to play baseball.