By Chris Chaney
Born out of necessity, Bethel Diamond Sports, Inc. was formed by a group of local parents at the end of 2012 in an effort to assure themselves and their children that youth baseball and softball could be played in Bethel.
“Last July we were trying to help the old organization create their bylaws because there were some issues with the town not wanting them to play on the fields anymore because of the way the organization was run,” Hollifield explained. “We were trying to help (the former organization) rewrite their bylaws because we were a group of parents who didn’t want that to happen.”
A few days prior to the group of parent’s presenting their bylaws to the organization, they were informed that softball had been removed from the umbrella of the former organization in charge. From that realization, Bethel Diamond Sports, Inc. was born.
The current secretary of the organization, Mary McMullen, took care of the legal aspects that came with incorporating BDS to assure them that they could be the ruling organization for softball.
“In December, the franchise for baseball was left open because the people running it had not claimed it, so we absorbed the boys into the organization as well,” Hollifield said. “When we formed our organization, we left a hole for them as well in case something like that happened.”
Entering 2013 as the lone governing organization of youth baseball and softball in the Village of Bethel, BDS had to begin to pick up the pieces scattered by the former organization.
“Unfortunately, we started out with nothing,” Hollifield said. “We were left with no equipment. When I say that they picked up and left, they left. They took everything out of our concession stands, they took garbage cans, they took chains and they literally dug up our home plates. When the (former) organization pulled out, they pulled out everything.”
Starting from scratch, Hollifield and her team looked around for some help and one of the first things that caught their eye was the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund. The community service arm of the local professional team has become very active in the tri-state over the past few years and their assistance with BDS was no different.
“(We received) a grant that you can apply for and as long as you fall under their guidelines, they will give you money for equipment,” Hollifield said. “They were able to buy our home plates for us, some catcher’s gear, they were able to help pay our association fees. We also have to pay $1,000 a year to Bethel schools to use their fields, so some of the Reds money went to that.”
The Community Fund was a good aid in the infancy of BDS, but with so much to get accomplished, the money was only a small part of the rebuilding process.
For membership and to receive the grant money, BDS has to also give back to their community by way of three different community service events over the course of the year.
Their first event took place in early April. Over 150 players, parents and coaches descended upon Bethel’s diamonds to clean them up and help to make them playable for the upcoming season. The volunteers cleaned up the fields, replaced benches and installed home plates.
Along with the members of the organization, local businesses donated their time and resources to help as well. Bill Davis of TowneScapes donated dirt and labor to renovate two fields; Dan Anderson of Xpert Custom Painting donated paint and labor to revitalize the concession stand, sheds and benches; Bobby Sandker from Utter Construction also helped renovate fields; Tim Curry from Curry Electric rewired the concession stand and James Mattes replumbed the concession stand.
The organization’s second community service outreach came at the Bethel Lions Club pancake breakfast. The Lions Club has been so impressed with the organization’s commitment to the community that they have also made a donation to BDS.
Bethel Diamond Sports plan to complete their third community service requirement at the Bethel Bolt on Aug. 10, doing whatever is asked of them from handing out water, to serving sandwiches to finishers of the 10K run and 5K walk.
The Village Council and mayor have also helped to get BDS off the ground and plan to do more in the future to help the organization.
In their first year in charge, BDS heads up baseball and softball teams for ages four to 18 who compete in Clermont County Knothole and the Southern Ohio Softball League. Already a success, Hollifield and her team have restored youth hardball to Bethel in a way that could only be imagined a year or two ago.
Hollifield was effusive in her praise for the community and everything that people have done to help grow baseball and softball in Bethel. However, for as far as the organization has come, they still have a long way to go.
For more information about what Bethel Diamond Sports has done over the past year and how you can help out, whether it be through donations or volunteer work, log on to the organization’s website at www.betehldiamondsports.com. From there, you can access contact information for Hollifield and members of her staff to see what you can do.