Rockdale the center of the sports universe?

BILL MARTIN

While Rockdalians have voted to provide enough money for the school district to improve and upgrade its facilities, the sports department is doing its best to wear them out.

If it seems like Rockdale has been a tad more crowded here lately, it’s because the Rock city has been the center of the sports universe the last couple of weeks, well locally at least.

With overlapping sports, basketball, baseball, softball and track in our midst, we have been more than hospitable.

On Friday, the 55th running of the Rockdale Relays will be held. And while the 12 teams that will participate is less than the 30 or more squads that used to show up in Rockdale in the Relays’ heyday, it remains one of the longest running meets in the nation, despite facing the gallows several times over the years.

The current administration can be credited with giving it mouth-to-mouth and saving it.

Perseverance, thy name is the Rockdale Relays.

Recently retired basketball coach Dusty Loewe resuscitated the old Tiger basketball classic that had been dormant for almost 20 years after running from 1955 through 1990.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, teams from all over the state would converge on Rockdale.

From 1957 to 1960, teams from Houston captured the title. Teams from Austin and Waco also claimed titles.

Now, the girls also put on a tournament.

With its new gymnasium, RHS has been a desired spot for playoff games and two weeks ago, a “neighborhood” double-header was held at Tiger Gym, with Thorndale facing Snook and Milano battling Thrall.

Both games were standing room-only successes.

The week before, the gym was host to a Somerville-Thrall girls playoff game.

Just last weekend, the RHS Sports Complex resembled an ant hill as both the baseball and softball teams hosted 20 schools as part of the Bell Rivals Classic.

The economic impact of these events would be almost impossible to gauge, but we’re guessing that convenience stores and restaurants received a spike in activity during these many events.

The gymnasium holds almost 1,000 fans and approximately 1,200 people attended the baseball and softball tournaments during the three-day outing, which was greeted by gorgeous weather.

A lot of schools, wouldn’t bother, but Athletic Director Jeff Miller and his crew are eager to share their facilities.

And despite the fact that he has no connections to Rockdale, he is a stickler for tradition.

“Our coaches do a tremendous job of being organized and getting things done and of course (athletic department assistant) Denise (Betchan) is unbelievable,” said Miller, who recently received a two-year contract extension.

“All our coaches are willing to volunteer to do whatever needs to be done. We also have great community leaders as well who organize and lend a big hand and make everything go smooth.”

Rockdale will host the junior high district meets for track, golf and tennis.

The measure of success for these events, teams keep coming back.

“We get letters all the time from coaches telling us it’s a joy to be here and compete in our facilities and tournaments,” Miller said.

The 5ive

Here are the five sports venues that you must include on your bucket list:

1. Madison Square Garden, New York City.

2. Fenway Park, Boston

3. Wrigley Field, Chicago

4. Churchill Downs, Lexington, Ky.

5. Wimbledon Stadium, Wimbledon, England


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