Paper Write-ups

- NORTH COMMUNITIES League column for March 18, 2009 edition. ONLINE version. Please run.
For Florida Today
 MERRITT ISLAND -- The saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies to more than just romance. Members of the Merritt Island Lassie Fast-pitch Softball League can testify to that.
 Founded by Weber and Myrtle Tisdale, whose daughter, Barbara, missed playing ball in the small town they moved here from, the Lassie League held a successful Opening Day last weekend. The event opened with a field dedication to the late Bill “Strick” Strickland, whose dedication to the sport was boundless, and a tribute to past presidents Joe Demes, Randy Harris and Rick Putnam; coaches Jack Hoffman, George Leighty, Howard Sloan and Bill Byrd; and volunteers like Dot Leighty, who made the first uniforms, among others.
 Also on hand were Hector Lopez, Brevard County Parks and Recreation Superintendent; Janice Rouse, Brevard County Parks Supervisor II; Kim Tokumoto, Athletics and Aquatics Coordinator; Aaron Wilder and Ernie Damos, Parks and maintenance staff; Eileen Brake, League Vice President; and Anna Oyer, Treasurer.
 “Bill died in 2001 and over 300 people attended his funeral,” Lassie League president Gina LaSpina said, “not just people that had known him in his later years, but many people that had not seen him for over 20 years. They came because they wanted to show respect for a man that had given so much of himself and helped shape the lives of so many girls through the years.”
 “Our Opening Day was a great Success,” LaSpina said. “The turnout was amazing and many players showed up for this dedication.”
 The league also had food, music, cotton candy, Sno-Balls from Sno-Hut, equipment sales from Island Sports Shack, face painting, a bounce house and slide, team photos, raffle and prizes donated by local area businesses, and team games.
 “I got involved with my two daughters Alicia and Talia, because I loved softball and had so many great memories as a player when I first started with the Tisdales and with “Strick,”” LaSpina said. “I was on the Board in 2000 and then became the president of Lassie League in 2005 and I am very proud to be a part of this organization and its continued growth since late 2006 when I changed it from slow-pitch softball to fast-pitch to help the girls have more opportunity for the high school level of play and possible college scholarships.”
 LaSpina also praised the many improvements done by Brevard County, including a new scoreboard and modification to the batting cage.