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Proud day for Solesbee, 2 programs

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By The Staff

The day – the final Saturday in an out-like-a-lion March – was windy, cold and gray. But for Lancaster Dixie Softball, it was a beaut. Call it Lancaster Dixie Softball's brightest moment on the diamond. March 29, 2008, was a red-letter day for the programs as late director Chuck Solesbee, along with Lancaster Dixie Softball and the Lancaster Southern Belles/ Debs programs were inducted into the Dixie Softball Inc., Hall of Fame.

The occasion highlighted opening day ceremonies for the 2008 Lancaster Dixie Softball season at Springdale Park.

Solesbee, who died last Aug. 18, was the Belles/Debs director and had served as the director for Lancaster Dixie Softball before turning it over to the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission several seasons back.

It was a proud day for the trio, but the moment clearly belonged to Solesbee, who served as a youth sports volunteer for 43 years.

"Chuck is looking down from heaven today and he's proud," said his wife Joan, who was presented his Hall of Fame honor in a home plate ceremony with her family. "Chuck would be so pleased."

Solesbee's dedication to the programs was because he knew the wholesome value of sports and recreation as well as the life experiences athletics teach youngsters.

"He did it for the kids," Joan Solesbee said. "Chuck loved kids."

Solesbee's grandsons, Neal and Cody Solesbee, capped the ceremonies throwing out the opening pitch.

Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission Director Frank Overcash said Solesbee had as much love for the game as he did for the young players.

"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 noted Solesbee was thrilled when the programs were successful.

But it wasn't all about wins and championships.

"Chuck 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," he said. "Chuck also knew it took guts to strike out in front of a big crowd. It was about building confidence and character."

Dave Houk, a veteran board member with the Belles/Debs program for girls 13-18, said Solesbee was the reason the program joined him in the hall of fame.

"We have benefitted from what Chuck has done," said Houk who noted a strong board has also had an impact on the program's success.

Scott Caskey, who coordinates the Dixie Softball program for girls 7-12 with the LCPRC, said Solesbee had an impact.

"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."

That's the only way Chuck would want it.