The Newton County STARS 8-and-under softball team has won once and placed second twice in six tournaments, including finishing as runner-up in the Tri-State Softball World Series in Dalton this past weekend.
According to head coach Scott Standard the team’s formula for its winning ways is simple, even cliché:
"(It's) The chemistry of the families that have formed this team," Standard said. "It’s very rare if someone misses a practice or a game. Everyone has been there, starting with my goal to play 15 or 20 games, and doubling that to 35 just so far."
Of course, just because something is cliché doesn’t make it untrue. And for the STARS (an acronym for Spirit, Teamwork, Attitude, Respect, Support) team unity goes beyond the field. The team consists of players from across the Newton County Recreation Commission’s 8-and-under softball league, which doesn’t have an all-star team like the boys’ baseball teams do.
Playing in tournaments outside of Newton County and under a banner other than NCRC, funding for the team needs to come from parents and other sources.
Standard originally set a budget of about $150 per player, and that was exceeded three times over due to sponsorships and several fundraisers spearheaded by the STARS’ parents.
"At least 2/3 of our funding has been through fundraising activities." Standard said.
One of the player's grandparents made a quilt that the team was able to sell for $1,200. Other supporters organized a yard sale and Cornhole tournament, all providing the means to take part in various tournaments around the region.
Once in those tournaments, the players repaid that support with production on the field.
"Our defense is definitely improved, but we made our mark offensively," Standard said.
The STARS will continue to play. Half the team is made up of 7-year-olds, able to continue in the same age group for another year.