Youth league games came to a brief halt at the new ball field Saturday as the athletic complex was officially dedicated to Harold Schrock. Schrock, the father of Syracuse resident Doug Schrock, died last year.
Dick Pelletier acted as master of ceremonies for the event. Dave VanLue, president of the Syracuse Park Board, spoke of his passion for the project. VanLue moved to Syracuse 50 years ago. Growing up he played youth baseball, coached it and even mowed the fields as a summer job. “The dream has come true,” he said about having a permanent ballpark for youth league.
VanLue thanked the athletic complex committee, along with the street department, and park department personnel who put long hours in as well as the community contributing the funds to make the athletic complex a reality.
It was originally thought completing the athletic complex would take two to three years. In reality the entire project took about 18 months. VanLue gave special thanks to Larry and Patty Martindale for their years working with the community’s youth and for Larry who has been a constant presence at the athletic complex while it was under construction. He made mention of Pelletier who he called “an amazing crazy fundraiser.” To honor the Martindales for their years of volunteer service to the Kiwanis Syracuse Youth League and for the many hours Larry volunteered during construction of the ball park, a field was named The Martindale Field.
Bill Musser, president of the Syracuse Town Council, said he was pleased to represent the council on this special occasion. He spoke about how the community came together to make the athletic complex a reality. He thanked the Wawasee Kiwanis Club, park department, Wawasee Pee Wee Football and the Schrock family “who obviously love our community.”
Musser continued explaining the community is expanding with the industrial technology park and other projects and the athletic complex will be an asset to the community. He told the crowd he was proud to live in a community that cares about its young people. “They have truly proven Syracuse is a great place to live,” he said.
Before introducing Doug Schrock, Pelletier read the list of contributors. He gave a special thank you to Martindale for his hours of service and to the Schrock family. In honor of the years the Martindales have dedicated to the Kiwanis Syracuse Youth League and the many hours Larry volunteered during the construction of the ball park, a field was named in their honor.
Pelletier noted Harold Schrock died May 14, 2012. “He had a sense of family and community. And he was passionate about whatever he did,” Pelletier said. A successful businessman, Harold Schrock believed “The most important aspect of any business is how you treat people.”
Schrock lived in Goshen and the little league park there bears his wife’s name. Pelletier noted Harold taught his children to be as successful and as giving as he was. In the past, Doug Schrock donated both property and funds for the Syracuse Community Center and now the athletic complex.
“Last year we determined there would be no water in the lake, so we needed a big ballpark,” Schrock joked. He thanked the community for its support. He noted phase one of the construction is mostly done, a few things had to be put on hold due to the recent rains. Bleachers and lights are next on the agenda for the park and work is continuing on that.
After the ceremony, Schrock said he was surprised the park would be open so fast. He explained he was gone for most of the winter so he didn’t get to see all the progress as it was taking place
Jack Birch, a member of Wawasee Kiwanis who is in charge of the youth league program, said “This is a huge bit of progress for the kids to play.” He is excited to provide a ball park for area youth to play baseball and softball.
Chris Cotton, director of Wawasee Pee Wee Football, explained his program is a bit different in that it encompasses all the communities in the area and is essentially a travel league. In the past, Pee wee football has had practices at Wawasee Middle School and played games at Wawasee High School. “For us to have a place to call home … reduce the wear and tear on the high school facilities.”
The goalposts for the football field will go up during the summer and the opening football game will be held in August. Cotton said he is looking forward to having a players reunion on opening weekend.