Posted: Thursday, August 14th 2014 at 2:42pm
GHS softball ready to establish new traditions on revitalized field
By Morgan Lee Editor
GAINESVILLE -- Roger Parham took over Gainesville High softball with the understanding that the Lady Red Elephants needed some tangible positives.
On Thursday, Gainesville’s softball team will feel a huge positive under its very own feet.
Thanks to the work of the city system, the long-dormant diamond located on the high school’s own campus will play host to its first ever softball contest -- and first competition of any kind since 1985 -- when the Lady Red Elephants take on West Hall at 5:55 p.m.
“This will give the girls something to hang their hat on,” said Parham, who took over the Lady Red Elephants program this spring after 25 years spent in Gwinnett County -- a stint that brought state championships in 1997 at South Gwinnett and 2008 at Mill Creek (his 2011 Mill Creek team also finished as state runner-up). “Gainesville is proud of its traditions in all sports, and we’re trying to establish that for softball. And I think this will be a big piece of that.”
Parham -- who actually competed on the field during his high school baseball career, taking on Gainesville while playing for South Gwinnett in 1983 -- immediately saw the field’s potential once taking over the program.
Gainesville fastpitch had played all of its contests at Lanier Point Park, and, while Parham had nothing but positive comments for the park facilities, the new coach felt a new home could prove beneficial.
“I talked with (Gainesville athletic director) Wayne Vickery and saw that as a vision and knew that if we could get softball on our campus it would make a big statement about the direction of the program,” Parham said. “Lanier Point did a wonderful job hosting us, but I felt this could be a big step in re-energizing the program.
“The field looks unbelievable, and David Presnell and Adrian Niles have done a wonderful job to improve this facility.”
The Lady Red Elephants hope to ride the positive energy to bigger things and have already benefited from Parham’s experience, opening the 2014 campaign with three wins.
“I think the most ever wins these girls have had in a season is nine; they’re great kids, and they work hard, and they’re ready for something better,” Parham said. “I knew this would be a challenge, but I was intrigued by the opportunity and I’m really excited to be here.”
Parham says the rebuilding process has gone far beyond new sod and a fresh coat of paint.
“We’ve worked a lot on fundamentals, and it’s all part of a process,” Parham said. “Our goal is to start playing better programs, but we have to improve to get to that point. We’re seeing progress, but, again, it’s all part of a process.”
It’s a process that will take a big step forward come Thursday.
NOTE: Admission is free for Thursday's contest.
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