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Twenty-Year Softball Game Tradition Continues At Elk Meadows

Aug 01, 2016 12:38PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Elk Meadows Principal Aaron Ichimura hits a homerun in his first at bat during the school’s 20th annual year-end softball game. — Julie Slama

Gallery: Twenty Year Softball Game Tradition Continues At Elk Meadows [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

By Julie Slama |  julie@mycityjournals.com

Since the school began in 1997, there has been a year-end softball game with Elk Meadows faculty and students. However, through the years, the game has changed.
 
“We had the students playing the teachers at the beginning so we could beat them, but instead, they kept beating us,” said teacher Whitt Lovell, who came up with the softball game idea. “So we changed it and invited sixth-graders to play with us and mixed up the teams. It offers better camaraderie and at the end of the year. We realize everyone is OK.”
 
The tradition, which was played in two games this year on July 1, also has grown so other students are watching and supporting the sixth-graders and faculty and staff, which  has come to  include custodians, cafeteria workers, aides and DARE officers. It also has changed so the pitcher is a team member to help players at bat. A sportsmanship rule of limiting seven runs per inning also has been incorporated.
 
“It’s a fun thing for students to see teachers play and see them in another light,” said fourth-grade teacher Angela Marsen, who has had her own kids play in the annual game in the past.
 
Sixth-grade teacher Cindy Park also has had her kids play.
 
“It’s just another experience for students to have with teachers and it creates fun memories at the end of their elementary years,” Park said.
 
To prepare students for the game, sixth-grade students play in a week-long school tournament leading up to the game so they are familiar with the rules.
 
“It’s a game everyone knows and is comfortable with and we make sure everyone gets to play during the tournament,” sixth-grade teacher Andrew Ridge said.
 
For the end-of-the-year game, students are selected on academic work, citizenship, leadership and their desire to play, he said. Teachers then select from the pool of students to play.
 
“It’s just good-natured fun,” Principal Aaron Ichimura said. “Faculty don’t tend to practice. I haven’t played since last year.”
 
Then, he stepped to the plate and hit a homerun at his first bat.
 
Fourth-grade teacher Brad Perry also hit a homer early in the game.
 
“I didn’t hit a homerun at all last year,” he said. “It’s just a fun way for everyone to end the year together.”
 
Sixth-grader Mason Pace pitched and played outfield early in the game.
 
“It’s fun to see how all the teachers play, but it’s more fun to play,” he said, adding that he’s watched the game through the years and looked forward to participating. “I play some basketball, but I’m not very athletic, but it’s fun to be part of the team and cheer each other on.”
 
Sixth-grade teacher Paula Berven said that sometimes former students return to play or to recall their day on the field.
 
“It’s a special honor to play and it brings about such fun memories,” she said. “It’s a tradition that we’ve had since we opened the school and students look forward to it, along with the farewell carnival that follows.”
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