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Bringing sports back to community park / March 03, 2021
As Bluestone High School varsity baseball coach Dequan Smith awaits a decision on whether Mecklenburg County schools will have a spring sports season, he’s also concerned about bringing recreational sports back to Chase City Community Park.

Smith is leading the Community Park outreach program. He is not only looking to bring in some travel team talent, but also revive what was once a flourishing youth athletics program at the park.

Smith knows not having the park available to local kids is not in the best interest of the community. Once he became varsity baseball coach, he could see the effects at the school.

“We were very scarce on ball players before we left,” said Smith, referencing March 2020 when spring sports were canceled. “I’m really not sure how many kids we would have come back.”

He’s thankful for the sports programs that are offered such as those through the YMCA. Smith has kids himself. Yet, he sees the benefits that upgrading the park could bring to Chase City kids and the town.

Smith explains it’s during those younger years that athletes learn about athletics and the benefits — physical, emotional, and otherwise — that participating in sports can bring.

The park was once home to the Dixie Youth baseball program in Chase City. In 2000 Clarksville Dixie Youth took over the Mecklenburg County Dixie Boys and Majors programs, leaving the town without a Dixie league.

The goal to reopen the park received a major boost recently when Chase City Town Manager Dusty Forbes asked Town Council to allocate $15,000 to assist with upgrades at the park. The cost, which will be covered through IDA property sale proceeds, was approved Town Council.

The monies will be used for construction of sand volleyball courts and an additional pavilion between the volleyball courts and baseball fields. Other upgrades include the painting and cleaning of existing buildings, repairing the bleachers at the baseball diamond, and purchasing new equipment for the ball fields.

Forbes noted at the time that Nipro PharmPackaging Americas of Chase City had donated $1,000 towards the project. Smith said Forbes’ support of the community park and his efforts have been essential.

“I’ve got to give a lot of props to Dusty Forbes,” Smith said. “I brought it up in a statement that’s what I wanted to do. He’s been backing me ever since on trying to get it open.”

Smith recalled his family grew up playing little league ball before moving on to middle and high school sports.

I played. My brothers played, my sister,” said Smith of recreation league play. “I played all four years at Bluestone. We’re going to try and start small and see how many kids actually want to come out.”

Smith will be assembling volunteers to help with the initial cleanup and ongoing maintenance at the park, and establishing travel baseball teams that will use the facility. He said right now it’s also about building relationships with the community, business owners and the like to support the return of sports to the park.

Smith said his resolve to see the park active again on a regular basis is also a personal matter for him. Keeping kids active is just a healthy way to live, he believes, and playing sports helps provide and teach young athletes the values of structure and discipline while also having fun.

“I mean for me, it’s trying to get the kids back,” Smith said. “I’ve got kids of my own and I want them to experience that.”

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