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Softball field named in honor of late mayor

This year senior night for Thorsby softball held an extra special meaning, as the field was officially named Richard “Dearl” Hilyer Memorial Field in memory of the late mayor and father of the team’s lone senior Anna Hilyer.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Anna Hilyer said. “My dad made a huge impact not just on me, but a lot of people in this town. It means a lot to me to have them do this.”

Head coach Leighsa Robinson came up with the idea as a gift of appreciation for the entire Hilyer family, and what better way then to have it take place on senior night.

Hilyer’s name associated with the softball field seems only fitting, since he coached softball for several years at both of youth league and high school levels.

“I knew Dearl a long time because of being around softball,” Robinson said. “It’s very deserving, because that man gave more then we could ever give.”

According to Robinson, many of the girls on the current varsity squad had been coached by Hilyer at some point as they grew up with the game.

The ceremony took place immediately following the final regular season home game, as Hilyer and the rest of her team helped to set the stage with a 10-9 win over Fayetteville in extra innings.

Most everyone in attendance remained standing with cameras out and tears in their eyes, as they witnessed the presentation.

Some of the team’s veteran players brought out the sign, while Mayor Robert Hight and Town Council members Marilyn Collins and Marvin Crumpton were also on hand.

“He [Hilyer] was just a likeable guy that everyone loved,” Hight said. “I haven’t heard anyone say a bad word about him.”

Hilyer died in October 2012, shortly after being voted in to serve a second term as the town’s mayor.

He was someone that the community rallied around, and the influence and effect that he had on people within the town continues to live on years later.

Hight credited Hilyer for bringing business to Thorsby, such as Dollar General and also putting a lot of effort and focus into the parks and youth of the town.

What Anna Hilyer will miss most about her time playing athletics at Thorsby are the bonds that she has created with her teammates over the years.

“My teammates always seemed to have my back, even if I was having a bad day,” Anna Hilyer said.