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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On April 29, Islington Center was bustling with excitement. Parents and caregivers lined the sidewalks near Morrison Field and readied their phones to record the highly anticipated parade. A Westwood fire truck and police cruiser rolled by, making the hundreds of children that marched behind the vehicles visible. They grinned, jumped in the air, and tipped their hats to family members to celebrate the start of the Westwood Little League season.
“For many years, the parade has been the Opening Day for Westwood Little League,” said Mary Ellen LaRose, Westwood Little League’s event coordinator. “It’s always been from Hanlon Elementary School to Morrison Field, and there’s over five hundred kids marching – both youth softball players and Westwood Little Leaguers.”
The children walked onto the field with their teams, and sat on the perfectly manicured grass that Westwood’s Department of Public Works cares for. Parents crowded around the field, observing the stilt walkers stroll around the diamond in their preposterously long baseball uniforms and watching Tessie, Wally the Green Monster’s younger sister, skip around the field.
Westwood Little League President Brian Hunt and Westwood Softball President Jay Resha both greeted the children and their families before the morning’s festivities and late-morning’s baseball game began.
“When you play baseball, remember guys and ladies, that it is a team sport,” Selectman Mike Walsh said to the young baseball and softball players. “You learn more on this field, and as you progress in life, everything you learn on the baseball field will somehow come back to you in life. It’s a great honor to play with your teammates, make some new friends, and have a great time!”
Westwood Little League’s Opening Day also welcomed Theresa Martin, a Westwood native, Westwood softball player, and retired Army captain, to throw the first pitch of the season.
“It might not seem it at times,” began Hunt, “but we really don’t want you guys to play Little League so that you can grow up to be Major Leaguers. We want you to play these sports because they help develop very important qualities in you – qualities that will make you really good people when you grow up. Baseball and softball are truly unique sports that develop these qualities.”
Hunt told the children that they invited Martin to throw the first pitch because she and all veterans truly exemplify the bravery, care, and resilience that can be learned from playing baseball or softball.
“It really helps bring the community together,” LaRose said. “It’s just a feel-good event and a good start to the season.”