“It’s church, family and softball,” Moore said decidedly. “Growing up you had church first and then softball at my grandfather’s — it was an every weekend thing. We had 42 first cousins, so we had enough to go around and change it out. We just loved it and my kids loved it, too.”
Moore’s love and appreciation for softball began at a young age, and, over the years, it is apparent it has never faded.
“I was never taught how to play softball. One day I just walked onto the field with a glove on my hand and was playing ball. My dad (Glen Tinsley) played when I was just a kid and he took us to the ballpark almost every Saturday night,” Moore said of her own softball experiences. “When I was 11, I started playing for Ralph Rymer on the Lady Aces and played until I was an adult. Then I went to church and open league and played until I was 37. I retired from playing ball myself because my kids were playing ball.”
Just over 15 years ago, girls softball in Bradley County was in a stagnant and disjointed state. Blue Springs Park, Industrial Park and Tinsley Park each had their own teams, and those teams never ventured farther than their own fields to find competition.
It was around this time that Moore’s own daughters, Bridget and Heather, began to get involved in softball. The single-park play was lacking in variety and playing the same teams over and over again, according to Moore, became rather boring for the girls.
All that would change though, once Becky, her husband, Barry, and a few others came together to unite the varying parks and teams.
“My husband and I, along with David and Chris Heffington and Jimmy Ellis, got together about 15 years ago and took Blue Springs Park, Industrial Park and Tinsley Park, and organized them all together under Cherokee Girls Softball,” co-founder Becky Moore explained. “The organization is actually run by Bradley Parks and Rec, but I still have the Cherokee Girls Association. We raise money through tournaments for the girls league.”
The group of softball parents hit the ground running for the Cherokee Girls Association in 1998, and their reorganization efforts soon came to fruition.
“We chartered the group and got all the non-profit stuff so that it was a real group. We started it so that all the girls in Bradley County had the opportunity to play at each other’s parks. Now we’re all localized right at Industrial Park and Tinsley. It has worked out better because everybody gets to compete with each other and move around playing different teams,” Moore explained.
Fundraising is vital for the continued success of the Cherokee Girls Association, and Moore still plays a pivotal roll in the group’s fundraising efforts.
Moore has also worked at revitalizing a couple of iconic softball tournaments at the local parks, both the Coca-Cola Classic and the McDonald’s Tournament.
“The first tournament we took over was the Coca-Cola Classic. Years ago this was huge, but then it started slacking off. It’s just now starting to make a comeback,” Moore said. “We’ve been doing the McDonald’s tournament for the past 15 years. We had it two weekends ago and it was a success. It’s started picking back up. It’s still lower than where we were, but we’re starting to get softball big in the Bradley County where it used to be. We start planning in December, and I post the tournament dates on different websites. About three weeks prior the tournament you usually start getting calls.”
A portion of the proceeds taken in from the McDonald’s Tournament are in turn donated to the Ronald McDonald House, an organization that Moore knows has benefited some Bradley County families along the way.
When the economy took a nosedive a few years ago, there was a noticeable drop in the tournament participation, but as of late Moore has seen the numbers begin to go back up to normal levels.
“The tournaments are now starting to pick momentum back up and work. Coca-Cola has always helped sponsor it, which helps go back into the girls association. Anything they do helps the kids and helps keep the parks up,” explained the softball veteran.
It is Moore’s love of softball and interest in helping other girls develop their skills that has ensured her longevity in the Cherokee Girls Association.
The softball tournaments help draw visitors to the area, as many teams travel to Cleveland to participate.
The Coca-Cola Classic, which will be held this coming weekend (June 7-8), had almost 30 teams registered for it as of May 28. Of those teams, only four are local.
“The Coca-Cola Classic is our big tournament and big fundraiser. It brings in a lot of out-of-town people, so it not only helps the organization but it helps the community as well,” Moore explained. “This whole organization has been very community oriented.
“I played softball all my life; it was my sport,” Moore commented. “We decided that we were going to be involved and just stayed there. I don’t have any children playing anymore; I just couldn’t get it out of my blood, I guess. I love being around all the kids.”
In addition to her work with Cherokee Girls Softball, Moore found her softball involvement expanded recently.
“This past December I became the JO (Junior Olympics) director for this district under Rita Hannah,” Moore explained. “I’m the deputy director for all Junior Olympic ASA softball here in this area, which is Polk County, Bradley County and up towards Athens. I’m trying to help make everything grow and pick back up.”
On average, there are around 500 girls involved in the softball program in Bradley County. That means that over the past 15 years Moore’s dedication and work with the Cherokee Girls Association has impacted the lives of some 7,500 girls.
To Moore, softball was an activity that helped keep her as well as her daughters out of trouble while growing up. The focus and activity that softball and other sports can provide to youngsters in the community are positives Moore is quick to emphasize.
“I work real hard trying to keep them busy — it gives them a focus. I think it helps their grades, keeps them focused on other things, so they tend to go on to higher education,” Moore commented. “Whether it’s softball, baseball or wrestling, it keeps the kids motivated and out of trouble. If a group of people can work together to keep these kids occupied and off the streets, they tend to stay out of trouble.”
When asked her opinion on the impact she has had in the community, Moore is quick to downplay her personal involvement.
“I’ve never really thought about it — I don’t think about what it is that I’ve done. I just hope that the girls go on and do good.”
Instead of claiming too much credit, Moore chooses to recognize the efforts of all those involved and their impact as a whole.
“I’ve never really thought about an impact of what I was doing, because I don’t really see it as me doing anything that somebody else couldn’t be doing. There have been a lot of people behind us and behind the scenes that are really there helping just as much as I am,” Moore stated.
“It’s not about me at all. I don’t do it for gratification or for anyone to recognize me; I’m doing it because these girls need it. The city and county budgets are really low right now, with the economy being the way that it is, so every dime we can raise to keep this organization going is what we’re out there to do.”
Further info on the upcoming Coca-Cola Classic can be obtained by emailing Moore at Bmoore6939@aol.com.