When players, coaches and fans gather this weekend at the Bethel Ballfield for the Troy Nation Back To Where It All Began men’s slow-pitch softball tournament, they will be treated, in some respects to a trip back in time.

“When I called the tournament Back To Where It All Began, that’s a true statement if I ever told one,” said Troy Nation president Wayne Lowery.

“I remember my sister, Amber Lowery Spencer, who is now married with two kids, playing Dixie fast-pitch softball on that field some 25 years ago, when she was 10-12-years-old, standing on that pitchers mound when kids really had to pitch. There was no such thing as coach pitch.

“I also remember watching church softball being played on that field,” he added.

“Bethel Ballfield has always been apart of something bigger, its influence has reached much further than the fence around it.”

Entries are still being sought for the tournament. The entry fee is $150 and is due by Tuesday.

Persons wishing to enter teams in the tournament teams should contact Lowery at 434-471-6191 or by e-mail at troynation2018@gmail.com.

This tournament is a double-elimination tournament, and teams will hit their own softballs. Balls to be used are approved 425/44 core balls. There is a five home run limit. A six-foot tall trophy will be awarded to the tournament winner, with the runner-up receiving a three-foot tall trophy.

Lowery said Bethel Ballfield is where some of the county’s best softball was played and where a number of the region’s best softball players emerged.

“Bethel is where the late Troy Strickland, Mark Beadles, myself and 11 little girls lives would forever change,” Lowery pointed out.

“Bethel Ballfield is where we created the well-known Shockwave travel softball team. This is where one of the greatest ball families was born. This is where a group of strangers came together, not only to form a ball team, but to form a family with an unbreakable bond. It is a family that still today holds a special place in my heart. It will never be forgotten, and surely never duplicated.”

A lot of work has been put in and is ongoing to prepare Bethel Ballfield for this weekend’s tournament.

“We hope to have around eight teams in the tournament,” Lowery said.

“The Bethel Ruritan Club, along with Troy Nation, has worked hard to get the field and concession stand ready for this event. All proceeds from concessions go to the Bethel Ruritan Club to help them keep the lights on at the ballfield for future generations of ball players. All proceeds from team entry fees goes to Troy Nation to help with our youth programs. Additional donations to the Bethel Ruritan Club and Troy Nation will be greatly appreciated.”

Troy Nation was founded last year by Lowery in memory of the late Troy Strickland. The organization is an advocate for youth development in Halifax County, working through youth sports and community volunteerism.

The organization’s goal is to help level the playing field for young athletes through skills enhancement, and to build leadership capabilities of young athletes by providing and facilitating community service opportunities in Halifax County.

“I hope Troy Nation is my next greatest accomplishment,” said Lowery.

“I can only hope that Troy Nation will impact peoples lives the way Shockwave impacted mine. It’s time to add another chapter to what one day I hope becomes a legacy for all to embrace and carry on.”

Lowery said that in strengthening the community’s youth, the community will become stronger.

“Over the last year, we have been working hard to raise money and put on events that will hopefully grab the attention of the citizens of Halifax County,” he added.

Earlier this year, the organization helped raise money to send Tayna Brandon to the University of North Carolina for a week-long nursing seminar to help give her the skills she will need to reach the next level of her education.

The organization also sent Halifax County Middle School standout football player Rashad Jones to a three-day Rising Stars football camp at Averett University.

“We have been diligent in our efforts to bring opportunities to the youth of Halifax County,” Lowery remarked.

Troy Nation and Averett University are teaming up to bring camps and clinics to our youth. Averett University will hold a prospect camp for softball players ages 14-18 on Sunday, October 20.

“For every girl from Halifax County who enters this camp, Averett University will donate a portion of the entry fee to Troy Nation,” Lowery said.

Plans are underway for mini-camps at Averett University for this coming spring. In March, Troy Nation will bring Steve Nicollerat of Coach Baseball Right from Illinois to Halifax County to hold a two-day baseball and coaches camp. That event will be open to all youth ages 6-18 and a free coaches clinic will be offered for all coaches of every organization.

“We are here to help our youth excel,” Lowery noted.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com