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Hernando County Swings and Misses with Sports Complexes

By Danny Aiello Jr.

Twitter: @DannyAielloJr

While Hernando County has parks and complexes designed to give residents something to do, the one thing the county seems to be lacking is a dedicated baseball and softball complex.

Hernando County Softball Players could be venturing elsewhere in the future.  Photo by Anthony Aiello

Hernando County Softball Players could be venturing elsewhere in the future. Photo by Anthony Aiello

A complex capable of hosting tournaments to bring in additional revenue for the county is missing, and in turn costing the county money and recognition from holding local and state tournaments.

For example, Delta Woods Park offers residents tennis courts, basketball courts and football fields. While you can find people playing the various sports as well as Saturday Shuffleboard, the lack of a baseball and softball complex is glaring.

Veteran’s Park has a lone softball field and two football fields, which helps run the local softball league and pee-wee football, but doesn’t allow for larger scale tournaments due to it’s limited size.

Ernie Weaver Park supports enough fields to host a little league tournament, however, the location leaves a lot to be desired.

The closest the county has to a baseball or softball complex would be Anderson Snow Park which is the home of the Spring Hill Dixie Baseball and Softball leagues. However, the park is listed as having 6 different fields, which isn’t enough to hold a State Tournament.

At Anderson Snow there are two Tee Ball fields, two 200-foot fields, a 275-foot field, and a 300-foot softball field. While this is useable for a league, the ability to host a multiple team tournament isn’t their because of the lack of available fields and wait times in-between games would be something impossible to overcome.

The ability to host a State Dixie Tournament would do wonders in terms of revenue for the county, as families would accompany their children, eating at local businesses and staying in hotels. The money brought in would help small businesses stay afloat and help the county thrive.

Currently, other counties are winning bids for these state-run tournaments and seeing their businesses thrive, while Hernando County is being left in the dust.

The implications of a softball complex would also raise revenue among adults. Currently, Tom Varn Park in Brooksville sports the only Co-ed and Women Softball leagues, and while Tom Varn, Veteran’s Park and Anderson Snow offer men’s recreational softball, neither complex is fit to hold sanctioned Softball Tournaments. Veterans and Anderson Snow each have one softball field available while Tom Varn sports two, which is less than the required four available to host a sanctioned tournament.

Tournaments are a fantastic way for the county to earn revenue, as the county would be entitled to fees for renting the fields, as well as a percentage of the overall fees collected.

Bill Bulchalski who helps run the Spring Hill Men’s League, which takes place at Anderson Snow and Veterans Park feels that a complex would help grow the league, providing opportunities for men and women to not have to travel as far to play their respect leagues or coed. It would also provide additional nights to play on with multiple leagues going at once.

Currently, there are 31 teams in the A through D divisions that play in Spring Hill. Adding additional fields would help the league facilitate a women’s league capable of eight or more teams as well as a church and co-ed league each sporting eight plus teams.

The complex would also allow recreational kickball leagues to form, as well as potential Baseball leagues.

While Hernando County is doing wonderful things for residents, it seems like a no-brainer was missed in the opportunity to build a complex for their residents, giving them something to do.

The 2013 Census had Hernando County at 52% female, and having one women’s league available for the county seems like a complete oversight. With projections stating Hernando County will house over 200,000 residents with an average age of 48 by 2020, it seems that a complex to provide them with activities is a win-win.

“I would absolutely love it if the county had a softball complex, a nice complex.” Patti Cloud, who plays Co-ed and Women’s League at Tom Varn, said. “I’ve traveled to a lot of places playing ball and the city’s fields here are junk, an embarrassment. Our senior league is looking to have tournaments in this area but I wouldn’t dream of suggesting our complex.”

Other players from the league shared Cloud’s disgust for the current condition of the field, but all, including Cloud, said that a complex would do wonders for the county.

Cloud, who ran the women’s league in the past, also felt the county parks department has gotten away from their state slogan “It starts in the parks”, as she has seen a dip in the women’s league going from 8-12 teams down to a minuscule four.

One potential solution could be combining Anderson Snow and Veterans Park, if commissioners didn’t see building one as a good idea.

Anderson Snow has an amazing soccer complex that hosts tournaments already, and if they were to restructure the baseball and softball fields, it could become an all-in-one facility.

Another option could be removing the football fields at Veterans Park and moving them to Anderson Snow to replace the baseball fields there, allowing Veterans to serve as the baseball/softball complex while Anderson Snow becomes Hernando County’s football and soccer hub.

No matter how you slice it up, complexes in surrounding counties already exist. If none are developed in Hernando, they can start to lose money to outside counties, continuing a trend of missed opportunities, and suffering local businesses.

According to the Florida Recreation and Parks Association, “It Starts in Parks”, and it is time for Hernando County to get on board.

 

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  • My father built Anderson snow rd. that park was suppose to have more baseball & soccer fields. A pool & a basketball gym. None of which has happened & it’s been 20yrs. Hernando county needs serious help & new leadership.

    Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:20 pm
  • This article is much needed to help put the spotlight on growing our youth programs. It is very disturbing though to hear that the director of HYL and who is also in charge of the Hernando Parks was arrested for assaulting his wife and forcing her to drop the charges. It sounds like he has a long history of harassment and violence with women in the workplace. How is he in charge of our youth programs? He is not a mentor or role model for our young boys/men. Maybe he should have focused all that energy on growing our county parks. Who is responsible for him still being in office? I’m told coaches have to pass background checks….what’s the point if the director has been arrested and has a continuous pattern of harassment and violence against females? I’m guessing he wouldn’t pass the background check himself. Is this a situation where it pays to be in charge so the rules dont apply to you? How very sad for our county and our youth.

    Sunday, 19 July 2015, 3:49 pm
  • Public pools…hmmm, I thought so too. Many years ago (great long term memory) I recall asking the parks manager, yep you know who…Why the City wouldn’t consider putting a pool in beautiful Tom Varn Park??? Anyone care to venture on the answer that I got back??

    Sunday, 19 July 2015, 10:16 am
  • We need public pools and splash pads for kids here in this county its freaking hot outside the kids cant even play outside in this heat they need indoor soccer too

    Sunday, 19 July 2015, 3:30 am
  • Dennis…don’t forget the crime rate to go along with the jobless community. No jobs! More meth houses, pot houses, senseless killings and all around more crime. I wanted to open up a cute, little store downtown Brooksville. Now…I’m not able to do that. Hallelujah !! There are good, honest,hard-working people in Brooksville. It’s a shame the abusive government ruins all that for them and their families. I’ve already turned my lights off and my fired, resigned self is the happiest person that’s ever left the City. So…as I write this my brain damaged self is enjoying my water front Bahamian Beach House !! I encourage others to follow. Jennene and Walker can kiss my tan, beautiful,bahamian beach bunns !

    Friday, 17 July 2015, 2:42 pm
  • Right on Joanne! City should have fired him.
    The facts in this story are erroneous, again presented by developers. There was no 2013 Census. They only conduct the census on the decade, 2010 being the last. Currently population growth is flat and ours is probably going to decrease as people flee for much more robust economies elsewhere. Workers can no longer afford to retire till they are just too old to work and then without pensions. And social security isn’t going to support much local economy. Last person to leave turn out the lights.

    Friday, 17 July 2015, 7:07 am
  • Very well said Patty Cloud and Joanne…) Mike Walker is an abusive idiot !!! It’s not only his ex-wife that he abused, it’s ALL his employee’s that work for him. All of the women that have worked for him have either left because of him or been fired by him.He had me pinned against a wall with his finger in my face and wouldn’t let me out of the room. I filed a report with the City Manager, never even got a reply back. I filed another report for violence with another employee an it was ignored too. Although I can’t remember if I were fired or I quit, either way it was the greatest move for my future. My only regret was that I wasted 10 years of my life working for COB. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been by that park. I can guarantee that those wind screens in back of the field have not been put up for the people? Walker sits in his office all day talking on his personal telephone and works on his HYL baseball league instead of city work. He forced his last administrative assistance off she was so abused by him. Mike Walker doesn’t even like children and parents don’t want to take their children there because of him.. Lou Bermudez was the perfect person for that job. He was Puerto Rican and his wife was black. Kids that I hadn’t see in that center were coming back around, the place was starting to become crowded by both white/black races. Lou would spend hours of his own time trying to built it back up again. He was becoming very successful. Walker asked him a question, “Man to Man, You trying to take my job away from me”? Yes…he was and that would have been the best that could have happen to that rec department. Lou was honest, sincere, hard working, and he out shined Walker. So they found a way to get rid of Lou too. Lou spent time with all the kids and he was helping them get in college by making phone calls for them, helping them with paperwork, classes, schedules. The black kids were coming around for Lou’s help. They wanted to go to college and he was trying to get them the help they needed to get there. When Lou left…there was no help coming from Walker. Tom Varn Park sucks and it is absolutely because of a man that makes around $60,000 for doing what?? Get rid of the idiot and gt someone that enjoys kids and wants to implement children’s programs that will last.

    Friday, 17 July 2015, 12:58 am
  • How is Mike Walker in charge of any parks or children’s activities? When I google HYL, his arrest record of him choking his wife and forcing her to drop the charges. No wonder Hernando county is a joke.

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 3:16 pm
    • Ha ,,,paid full administrative leave during his time out from trying to kill his wife. I sustain a brain injury and I get fired two weeks before my FLMA. Makes no sense does it? A word of warning…any employee that sustains a brain injury on the job, call me. For you will get NO help from the COB. When I went through their system with a brain injury…IT’S CRIMINAL !! There is NO help for the injured worker at the COB. MIke Hannigan is another example of a worker getting screwed over because he got seriously injured. Please if you hit your head…need help, call me first. I’ll help you. Can’t depend on human resource. Tillina is a puppet and won;t help you .

      Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:21 am
  • Unless they build something big enough to host the BoSox, there are plenty of places for softball in the county. I grew up on the beach and live on the water now, so, besides riding my Harley, land activities don’t thrill me much. BoSox and Pats I could watch all day though !!

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:38 pm
  • Ernie Weaver is a perfectly fine place to host tournaments. Been saying it forever. They are too hung up on league ball on Saturdays which takes hosting travel ball tournaments right out of the picture. Also, the panhandle, where most Dixie tournaments happen, has NOTHING to offer the families that drive way up there. Nothing.

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 12:11 pm
  • I have lived in several communities in several states over my 47 years. I have NEVER lived in a community with so few parks and outdoor activities. I lived in the mid west and the rockies, and every place I have lived has had neighborhood parks nearly every few blocks or within walking distance to any neighborhood. Hernando only has a few parks TOTAL, and they are poorly maintained and poorly set up. Very limited use for each park. I have mentioned this to many people over the 8+ years I have lived here. What gives Hernando? Not enough empty lots to clear out, mow some grass and put up a swing set and slide and a few picnic tables?

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 11:53 am
  • Hernando County has confirmed its place of a non family and sports County by never offering a full sports
    range or facilities…. none more notable than a community pool or aquatics center!! Sad place for athletics !

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:42 am
  • Tom Varn Park has hosted numerous tournaments for Dixie Softball. Districts this season, State just a couple of years ago, and more. I have been to and played at numerous parks all over the state and we have some of the nicest ones around.

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:41 am
  • Great article. You neglect to give a solution as to who will PAY for these renovations. It’s great to mention all the shortcomings, but you have to understand that Hernando county has nowhere near the revenue of other counties like Hillsborough or Pinellas, or even Pasco. Hopefully though, in the future the county will attempt to earmark some funds for either building or renovating, as well as the upkeep of said facilities. Just don’t see it happening soon, not with taxpayer dollars

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:18 am
  • It’d also be nice if Parks and Rec would pay for stainless steel chains to hold the swings instead of saving $1 and having kids get red rust all over their fingers. But hey – we allow people to smoke near kids at all of the playgrounds – so who really cares about the children in this county anyway? Oh wait – this was about the importance of newer softball complexes – yes – MUCH more important than anything that has to do with children.

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:16 am
  • I believe years ago, Hernando County residents voted for a tax to raise money for new sports complex ball fields at Anderson Snow, and that tax money was used to build additional girls & t-ball fields instead of larger adult ball fields.

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 9:06 am
  • there ya have it!!!Hernando not thinking again,Why not utilize all the parks at once ,just for the tournaments,it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out,and if there are regular local leagues during this time ,just set them for a latter date,like they do for make-up games,or would that be to much work for Hernando Co.?Let face it MLB don’t have their playoffs in one place!!!Get off off you butts and do some work to make this happen,instead of letting another opportunity to do something good pass us by once again!

    Thursday, 16 July 2015, 7:20 am
  • It starts with the parks director…Mr. Walker has been in place for years and hasn’t had any success with growing our sports complexes. Having played co-ed softball at Tom Varn and boys and girls playing at Anderson Snow it’s sad to see the missed opportunities year after year. Attending Dixie All Star tourneys for the boys and girls in other counties generates great exposure to grow interest in playing at those complexes and generates revenue. Guess we will see if Mr. Walker takes note and starts to grow Hernando county or just continues to come up short.

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:56 pm
    • Definitely starts with the parks director…he needs to be replaced. If I were a citizen of Brooksville and knew that he was being paid 60,000 a year and in the last 20 years nothing has changed or gotten better in the park.. i would sure be asking questions and finding another director. BUt, I’m really beginning to see that the City Manager likes it that way. And…he doesn’t even have the golf course anymore. More time to work on HYL during city hours,

      Friday, 17 July 2015, 1:08 am
  • Everyone wants them but Nobody wants to pay for them. They need to put a park near Royal Highlands.

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:41 pm
  • Great story !!! Help support this story we need the county to start giving back to their commumity instead of just taking our tax money..A nice sport complex would be great .

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:28 pm
  • Very well said, I agree one hundred percent, we need it…Your article is well written and spoken, and should be heard…

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 10:14 pm
  • What services will the County give up to pay for softball fields, or perhaps the leagues fees will pay for this, does the parks Dept. have the personnel to take care of them properly or will that require the hiring new personnel?

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:55 pm
  • Key words…missed opportunities….that’s Hernando county’s motto….face it Hernando S UCKS…

    Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 9:55 pm

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