Palestine Magazine Spring Edition 2021 - Page 19

Palestine Youth Sports Organization more than fun and games Story by Lisa Tang with contributed photos

The dream of reopening the Palestine Athletic Complex came to fruition this spring , after an extraordinary amount of planning and teamwork occurred behind the scenes . Over a few months , community leaders , educators , and volunteers pitched in to put sports back in play .

Some pushed ideas in city council meetings , while others moved dirt on the fields , but everyone ’ s efforts paid off as roughly 600 kids returned to play baseball and softball . The city completed renovations on the complex in early 2021 , making good on its unexpected closure of the park in 2019 due to lack of accessibility for persons with disabilities .
Completing the renovations solved one of the problems , but the other challenge involved forming an organization that could manage the fields , the leagues , the players , and their families . In other words , everything else .
Palestine , meet the Palestine Youth Sports Organization , an agreement with the city and Palestine and Westwood school districts , formed from necessity and concern for the kids .
To reopen the complex , the city used funds from the federal CARES Act , also known as COVID-19 relief funds passed in 2020 , to build new concrete walkways and update restrooms and concession stands .
The updates comply with requirements for social distancing and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 , which requires public accommodations to be accessible to people with disabilities .
Before construction began , superintendents Jason Marshall of the Palestine Independent School District and Wade Stanford of Westwood Independent School District came to an agreement with the
city of Palestine . The city did not want to allow use of the athletic complex unless the school districts jointly managed it .
The superintendents agreed to the deal and issued a letter in February 2021 , introducing the PYSO .
“ Please know that PISD and WISD did not seek out being in the youth sports business , but we feel the need to ‘ step up to the plate ’ and provide these opportunities that would have been unattended had we chosen not to get involved ,” Marshall and Stanford said .
An under-10 baseball team participates in a pre-season scrimmage in early April .
Both Palestine teams of the Anderson County Volleyball League play at Palestine Junior High .