Having a nationwide baseball tournament come to Clemmons, NC, is not only a big deal for kids, parents and coaches, but also the community. Barry Leonard, President of South West (SW) Athletics, said, “The tournament was just the beginning of big things for both SW Athletics and Clemmons, NC. We are currently in line to host the 2018 9U Region. The economic impact for Clemmons was around 2.3-2.7 million for the ten days the teams were in our community. The most important thing for SW Athletics was how the community embraced the event. We had alumni of SW Athletics come back and volunteer, watch the games and donate to the event. It’s been overwhelming, to be honest.”
So how was Clemmons, NC, chosen to host this tournament? “We, the SW Athletics, were selected by the Babe Ruth League, a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to developing better citizens by providing properly supervised baseball and softball competition for players 5–18 years old, 18 months ago when they came and visited our facility and community and chose us to be the host site. Since 1963, Southwest has been a premier location for youths of Forsyth County to play baseball and softball. Our complex is busy ten months out of the year because many of our fields are Astro Turf, allowing ball to be played February through November,” Barry commented. SW Athletics had two teams competing in the tournament. SW Red played in the State Tournament, won the tournament and received an automatic bid to the World Series, finishing the tournament 2–3. The “host team,” SW Blue, opted to play in the Regional Tournament, won the Regional tournament and finished the World Series at 3–3. Beyond the opportunity for the players, the Cal Ripken World Series brought quite a few people into the Clemmons, NC, area with great benefits for local businesses.
“We saw 10,000 plus people over the course of the week visit our facility; 10 teams total, 2 of those from SW Athletics. The turnout was tremendous, and the support from our community is something we will never forget. The first thing you heard from those new to our area, in town for the tournament, was how nice the people were here. Local businesses, especially the restaurants, knew who these kids and teams were and went above and beyond to make them feel at home. The Banquet of Champions, which was a dinner held at Village Inn, was a great way to kick off the tournament and bring everyone together,” stated Barry.
Everyone likes to bring home a trophy and be known as the best, but for SW Athletics, having the Cal Ripken World Series come to their home field meant much more than where they finished. “The people and businesses of Clemmons, NC, showed us that they really appreciate our program and what we bring to the community. We bring a tremendous amount of value to the area, and it feels good to know that we’re appreciated. Those involved with SW Athletics realize how fortunate we are to live in Clemmons and the support that we get from the Town Council is something that we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude for, and we don’t take that support lightly. There are bigger things to come to this area, that is for sure,” Barry said.