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Lancaster Dixie Softball turned an impressive triple play Saturday morning as the 2008 season began at the Springdale Recreation Complex.
A Lancaster area softball trio, in a rare, but impressive way, joined elite company.
The late Chuck Solesbee along with the Lancaster Southern Belles/Debs program and the Lancaster Dixie Softball U-12 program were inducted into the Dixie Softball Inc. Hall of Fame.
“For this district, this is truly an honor to have all three join the hall of fame,” said District II Dixie Softball Director Tommy Bailey of Chester.
District II includes Chester, Lancaster and York counties.
Bailey said Solesbee’s leadership was the reason he was inducted along with the two programs he supported through a youth sports volunteer effort which spanned 43 years.
Solesbee, who died last August, was inducted posthumously with his family accepting the honor on his behalf.
“Chuck is looking down from heaven today and he’s proud,” said his wife, Joan. “This is wonderful and Chuck would be so pleased.
“He would say each year he was going to retire, but somebody on the board would call and he would be right back at it,” Solesbee said. “He did it for the kids. Chuck loved kids. With all the years Chuck put in, this is well-deserved.”
Solesbee noted her son, Brian, who participated in the ceremonies with family members, is coaching a T-ball team this spring named in honor of her late husband.
“They will be called the Chuck Solesbee Fireballs,” she said.
Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission Director Frank Overcash noted Solesbee’s passion for the programs which have grown through the years. The 2008 Dixie Softball U-12 program features three divisions of 25 teams which range in age from 7-12.
“When you talked to him about softball, you could see the passion in Chuck’s eyes,” Overcash said. “Chuck inspired a lot of people with his volunteer spirit and that spirit is evident today.”
Overcash said Solesbee was part of the program for all the right reasons.
“He showed kids how to be good sports,” Overcash said. “He knew to be successful you had to know how to win and lose.
“At the same time, he knew how important and special it was to get that first hit and make that first catch,” Overcash said. “Chuck also knew it took guts to strike out in front of a big crowd. It was about building character and confidence.”
George Matthews, a Dixie Softball state director, lauded Solesbee’s dedicated example.
“Chuck always exemplified what Dixie Softball is all about,” Matthews said. “Volunteers like him put the children first. Chuck was a small man in stature, but he had a big heart. We need to give back like the people before us have.”
Dave Houk, a Lancaster Southern Belles/Debs veteran board member for the program for girls 13-18, said Solesbee’s work and dedication were vital in the program’s joining the Dixie Softball Hall of Fame.
“We’re honored to be in the hall of fame and it’s a result of Chuck’s hard work,” Houk said. “We have benefitted from what Chuck has done. We’re also successful because of a dedicated board of directors.”
Scott Caskey, who coordinates the Lancaster Dixie Softball program with the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission, said Solesbee laid the groundwork.
“Chuck started with this program and laid the foundation,” Caskey said. “Going into the hall of fame is a tribute to the volunteers, coaches and players. It’s a community effort and they should be proud.”
Bailey said the success of both programs in postseason play has also been impressive.
“Lancaster has one of the older programs in Dixie Softball in South Carolina,” he said. “To get into the Dixie Softball Hall of Fame is about their success in postseason play, state tournaments and world series, and also their sportsmanship.”