(Left photo by Cindy Gaedert-Gearhart/TCJ and right photo by Christine Terpening)
If you’ve been around Vermontville long enough, you will have seen a gentle giant mowing and providing for Maple Valley’s baseball field in Vermontville. Though Roger Corey passed away in 2020, he is still taking care of the field. Money from Corey’s estate kickstarted a much-needed replacement of the field’s baseball dugouts. Corey graduated from Maple Valley in 1972 and never stopped giving to the school.
“Roger gave endlessly to the field with his time and money. He was always at the field doing something like mowing, watering, fixing things. Always looking to improve all areas of the field and surroundings. We want to continue to do what we can to keep the field in a way that he would be proud of,” said varsity Maple Valley baseball coach Bryan Carpenter.
The funding for the dugouts is a team effort between Corey’s estate, the Athletic Boosters and the school district for a construction that is long overdue. Landon Wilkes, MV athletic director, tried to think how long the previous dugouts had been there. “We were trying to remember how long they’ve been there, and it’s been since at least the 1970’s. It didn’t take much to tear them down,” laughed Wilkes. Coach Carpenter recalled them being 30 to 40 years old. While that fact may be up for debate, it is certain that the baseball diamond was due for new dugouts.
“The new dugouts are something we are very excited for. They are bigger which gives us more room to not be tripping over each other with stuff cluttered about. It will add to how nice our baseball complex is. We have an amazing field, and the dugouts will be the next piece to add to the total package,” Coach Carpenter shared.
The players are also excited for their new rally digs. “We get more updates from the boys than anybody. They let me know every day what’s been done and how it’s going,” Wilkes said. He used to drive out to the field located at Maplewood Elementary, but now he saves a trip thanks to the boys that drive by the field every morning to get to school and they always offer a detailed report.
The 2023 season has started as the baseball team spent spring break on their yearly trip to Easley, South Carolina for “spring training.” The dugouts are on track to be complete by the first home game on April 6th, that is if the weather cooperates. Wilkes chuckled, “It’s a muddy mess down there at the moment, but a few dry days and some wind will make it pleasant for spectators.”
Wilkes offered a long list of contributors that are hands-on with the project, from those that are laying the foundation, roofing and siding to those that are building cubbies, bat racks, and benches. It is a tag team effort. Wilkes sited Dr. Katherine Bertolini, Maple Valley School District Superintendent, as being key in making this project move forward.
It is important to note that Corey, a former firefighter, also took care of his village. His estate purchased a brand-new fire truck for the safety of everyone in Vermontville and its countryside. As for these dugouts, “It had been a dream of Roger’s that he never got to,” Wilkes said solemnly. That is no longer a dream undone. Corey’s love of baseball will be felt for decades as teams for generations to come will play on the beautiful field. Corey’s passionate heart still beats around Vermontville with a legacy that will not be forgotten.