• 72°

Youths represent towns well

The pride of small towns across the state of Alabama often rests on the successes of their high school football, baseball and basketball teams.

What greets visitors to the town of Maplesville? A list of the school’s state championships.

But this phenomenon, cities and towns identifying themselves mainly by their athletic programs, stretches even beyond the varsity fields and courts. Several youth league baseball teams this summer are making their respective hometowns proud.

Clanton’s O-Zone baseball team will compete in the state tournament this weekend. Jemison’s 12-year-old team was competing as this column was being written Tuesday evening. Clanton’s AA team competed in a state tournament last weekend.

In some cases, youth sports become the stuff of legend just like varsity athletics do. People in Clanton will long remember the city hosting Dixie Youth state tournaments in 2008 and in 1990, when the hometown heroes took home—well, kept at home—the trophy.

We’ll see if any of this year’s teams can write their name in both the history books and the collective consciousness of county residents.

If not, these players will experience the beautiful thing about youth sports. Unlike high school seniors who know the end of the season will bring the end of their careers representing their hometowns, youth players can always look forward to next year.

To more tournaments, more hotels, more road trips—and more representing their hometown.