No softball tourney?

August 3, 2009

by Aaron Schultz

Well, this past weekend it was the 40th annual Pola-Czesky Days celebration in Silver Lake.

I am not old enough to remember the first 20 years or so of Pola-Czesky Days, but ever since I was a young kid I do remember heading over to Silver Lake for some fun times.

Pola-Czesky Days was a part of my life growing up, heading over to watch all the softball games that took place during the tournament, then listening to some good music at the street dances, and then sitting on the curb and watching the parade Sunday afternoon.

And that was just when I was still too young to play softball.

While I couldn’t yet play, I did always get to sit on the bench and do the scorebook while my dad, or uncles, or cousins played on various different teams.

That is something that has stayed with me, and will continue to stay with me.

After several years had gone by, I finally was old enough to play modified softball myself, and again, the memories were always great playing in the Pola-Czesky Days softball tournament.

We’d tent out in the center field of the softball field, play some softball, and have a good time.

Things began to change for me once the Winsted Wildcats started winning a few games.

In my early years with the Wildcats, we’d never make it to the region tournament, always getting ousted in the playoffs.

While that sucked, it did allow our softball team to play in the softball tournament in Silver Lake.

See, while it wasn’t the case this year because Labor Day weekend is so late, the first weekend of the region tournament usually takes place the same weekend as Pola-Czesky Days.

Once we started making regions, our softball team stopped playing in the tournament.

It also affected how much I actually make it over to Pola-Czesky Days anymore.

These past few years, I haven’t attend the annual event in Silver Lake nearly as often as I would like, and I am disappointed about that.

However, with the region tournament missing Pola-Czesky Days this year, I thought that I might make the trek over to Silver Lake Saturday to catch a little softball action.

I haven’t watched a modified softball game all summer, and figured this would be as good a time as any to get out to Silver Lake, have a beer and a burger, and catch some softball action.

As I was making my plans this past week for the weekend, I was informed that there wasn’t going to be a softball tournament this year.

My first thought was that they couldn’t get enough teams, which would have sucked, but would be understandable.

When I asked if that was the case, I was told firmly that they had almost 17 teams already signed up, and still no tournament.

This brought a puzzled look to my face, and the following question was asked, “What are you talking about? If that many teams were going to play, why then, no tournament?”

In the back of my mind I came up with another explanation – no one was willing to run the tournament.

That idea quickly went by the wayside since I know that there are a number of Silver Lake residents, or former residents, who take great pride in that softball tournament.

The answer I got, which, mind you, is secondhand since I was unable to reach the appropriate person to talk to, was that the softball field was already booked for the weekend.

That same puzzled look on my face returned as I wondered what the heck that meant.

Apparently, someone over there organized a co-ed kickball tournament, got eight teams, and locked up the softball field for the games.

Since the field was going to be occupied all of Saturday, there was no choice but to cancel the softball tournament.

In my mind, there was a choice – change the location of the kickball tournament to pretty much anywhere else.

The football field, a field, an open lot. It’s kickball – can’t it be played pretty much anywhere?

I think kickball tournaments are great, and even though I haven’t ever played in a tournament, it does sound like something that would be fun.

So, for the record, I am not ripping on the kickball tournament, just the fact that it replaced the softball tourney.

Pola-Czesky Days and the softball tournament go hand-in-hand, and I hope that this is the one and only year where that isn’t the case.

To whoever is in charge over in Silver Lake, make sure to leave that softball field open for the modified softball tournament. It needs to come back.

I don’t want to be telling my kids the story of when Silver Lake used to have this great softball tournament during Pola-Czesky Days.

Instead, I would like to be taking them over to Silver Lake to enjoy it like I did as a kid.