Field Of Dreams: Blue Wahoos Stadium For Rent On Airbnb

May 24, 2020

Short-term vacation rentals are back, and this local one is really, really big. Field of Dreams kind of big.

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos have placed their entire stadium on Airbnb. For you and nine of your friends, it’s just $1,500 a night.

“For the first time ever, a professional baseball stadium is available for rent on AirBnB, giving fans the most intimate, behind-the-scenes ballpark experience in history. Whether you’d like to host an unforgettable overnight trip with your youth league team, throw an unbeatable birthday bash, stage a corporate retreat that will make you an office hero, or spend your bachelor party living your sports dream, Blue Wahoos Stadium is the ultimate rental,” the listing says.

Guests staying at the ballpark will have full access to the newly-renovated and fully-furnished clubhouse, a large bedroom with 10 beds, the batting cage, and the field itself.

The clubhouse has four leather couches, two flat screen TVs, a ping pong able, padded chairs, two large tables and connected bathrooms with showers.

The large bedroom is connected directly to the clubhouse and has four bunk beds and two queen-sized beds, allowing 10 to sleep comfortably. It also includes two flat screen televisions and a kitchenette with a fridge, freezer, coffee-maker, and microwave.

Guests will be given access to Blue Wahoos Stadium’s batting tunnel, allowing them to hit just like the players do. Bats, balls, and helmets will be provided.

Guests will have full and exclusive access to the baseball field at Blue Wahoos Stadium during their stay. A full batting practice set-up is included on the field. Guests are welcome to hit from home plate, play catch in the outfield, run the bases, enjoy a picnic in the outfield, or find other creative uses for the field.

A Blue Wahoos representative will provide a full tour on arrival and will be stationed in the ballpark to provide security and answer questions.

Add-ons include available food and beverage packages merchandise and additional experiences for an additional charge.

Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Century High Stadium Sign Is Headed To Historical Park To Honor Kayo Stanton, The Voice Of The Blackcats

May 15, 2020

“Heeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrreeeee come the Blackcats!”

So many times those words echoed through Kayo Stanton Stadium at the former Century High School. Very little of the stadium remains today; the remnants of the home bleachers and the press box remain, but they suffered heavy structural damage during the EF-3 tornado that hit Century on February 15, 2015.

On Thursday, crews used a crane to  remove the “Kayo Stanton Stadium” sign from outside the press box and transported it to the Alger-Sullivan Historical Park where it will be put on display.

The main Century High School school building was constructed in 1937. Century High School closed a quarter century ago after being merged with Ernest Ward High School in Walnut Hill to form the current Northview High School.

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Who was Kayo Stanton?

Kayo’s full name was Vivian Earl Stanton, Jr. “Kayo” is a term used in boxing to denote a knockout but his daughter Anne Williamson of Thomasville said his nickname was for a character in the 1930s-50s “Moon Mullins” Sunday comic strip named “Kayo.”

Stanton’s deep voice was easily recognizable – his trademark was “Heeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrreeeee come the Blackcats,” as the Century team came onto the field before the game started. His son, David Stanton said his father borrowed the line from the Florida Gators after attending games in Gainesville when David was a student there. “He came back and tried it, and it went over pretty good,” he said. “He kept it for the next 20 years.”

Kayo didn’t try to be a play-by-play announcer. He once said, “The fans can see what’s going on. I just tell them the yard marker, since we can see from this high vantage point. The men who work as spotters in the press box tell me the players’ numbers and I pass that to the crowd.”

The stadium was named in his honor during the football season of 1990. He was beginning to be paralyzed from the cancer by the end of the football season, but he could still walk some at the time of the dedication. By the end of the season he was confined to a wheelchair and would listen to the games from the wheelchair sitting in his front yard.

Stanton  was “The Voice of the Blackcats” as public address announcer for Century football for 40 years, starting in the early 1950s.

Stanton was also a third generation businessman in Century. At 19, he went to work for his father, Bubba Stanton, at Stanton’s grocery on Mayo Street. The family closed the grocery store in 1963, and when Bubba died in 1964, Kayo took over the operation and eventually turned it into a furniture store.

Stanton prepared for games as if he were going to broadcast them, studying series records against Century’s opposition for the week and scores against common opponents, to be shared with the fans.

His attendance record was almost spotless, even after he opened another store in Pensacola in 1979. The new store kept him out of town for much of the week in the six years it was open. But Fridays always found him in the press box.

Stanton’s tenure was interrupted only once, as family ties put him in a different place in the stadium during the 1968 season. That was the senior season for Kayo’s son David, an All-State linebacker for Century.

But he returned to the booth the following year and stayed for the next 20 years, before cancer forced him to give up announcing. He died June 13, 1991.

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Century Blackcat Football

Century’s high school ventured into football in the early 1930s. According to “Blackcats: A history of Century Football 1931-1975″ by Jim Curenton, football was first played behind the Baptist and Methodist churches in 1931. In 1934, Marvin Kelly donated a parcel of land northwest of the present-day Carver-Century K-8 (the site of present-day Showalter Park) and it was used for Century’s athletic teams. Football was played at Kelly Field during the daytime hours since there were no lights.

It’s not clear just when the first games were played at the new high school, built in 1936. Curenton’s book says of the 1941 season, “Kelly Field had not been used as a football field in two or three years.” At any rate, at the end of World War II, for the first time, home games were played under lights on the field behind the new high school. Century played its first night game against W.S. Neal. A solid white ball was used to make it more visible at night. Curenton reported that since grandstands were non-existent and there were no fences as yet, crowds pressed closer and closer to the action, actually narrowing the field of play.

The school property bordered the crest of a hill on the edge of a small swamp around Findley Branch. Coach Bill Turberville took advantage of the slope. He had the boys carry each other up the hill repeatedly to build the legs and endurance of the players. Coaches following Turberville also used the slope for practice drills, and Eddie Simmons believes Coach Jay Smith made the most use of it. He had two boys race down the hill – one boy had to block them both and push them back up the hill. He would alternate two on one going up and then going down, tackling and blocking.

By 1944 a grandstand was erected on the north side of the field. It was a wooden affair with about five or so rows of seats, seating maybe some 50 people. However, it was a start. It was a sign of progress and of a “slowly growing interest in high school football,” according to Curenton. Crowds increased and that resulted in larger stands being constructed. Later cars pulled up to the fence on the south side and fans sat in their autos, blowing their horns when there was an exceptional play. About 1948, a grandstand and dressing rooms were built with wooden seats atop them. Running water was added to the dressing rooms in 1952, with Kayo Stanton doing most of the plumbing work.

Grover Hicks, Mr. Peavy and Angus Hall of the county’s maintenance crew used wheelbarrows to build a concrete extension onto the east end of the existing grandstand that was used by opponents’ fans.

A deep gully at the east end was filled in during Jim Manderson’s coaching tenure at CHS some time during 1952-54. A classroom was built adjacent to the southwest corner end zone and encroached on the end zone. In the 1980s, Paul Jones, owner of the land east of the field, donated property so the field could be extended in that direction.

The cement grandstand and press box on the south side wasbuilt with the help of the Century High School Quarterback Club in the 1960s and 70s.

Historical information and photos courtesy Jerry Simmons, Alger-Sullivan Historical Society. Modern day stadium photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Youth Ball: Molino, NEP To Resume; NWE, Century Won’t Due To COVID-19

May 6, 2020

The Molino and NEP ballparks are working toward continuing their spring seasons, while Northwest Escambia and Century have decided not to finish their seasons due to COVID-19.

The Escambia County Commission affirmed last that youth sports leagues can move forward with practice and play in ballparks owned by the county with restrictions, as long as it does not conflict with any state order.

Youth leagues that use county parks are allowed to practice now and play first games as early as May 15.

Youth sports at each county ballpark are managed by independent organizations that will make the decision if they want to play and how they will accomplish required social distancing requirements. Bleachers may be marked off for social distancing, or may be removed altogether. The commission made it very clear that a parent chooses for their child not to participate, they are entitled to at least a partial refund. Some parks may offer parents the option of rolling fees forward to next year.

Molino Ballpark

Molino Ballpark plans to restart their spring season soon, with a focus on the safety and health of players and fans. As of now, team practices are set to begin on May 18, with the first games on June 1. The season will continue until June 26.

The league will release more information soon.

Northwest Escambia

The Northwest Escambia board of directors has decided not to continue the 2020 ball season.

“The board met and discussed the pros and cons of resuming the season and ultimately it was in the best interest of all players, coaches, and community members involved to not resume the season,” the league said.

NWE is working on a procedure for player credits for the next ball season.

NEP Ballpark

NEP Ballpark is working on plans to continue their spring season. Tentative plans have practices starting the week of May 18 with games from the first week of June through mid-July. The ballpark remains closed until May 18.

Century Little League

Century Little League will not resume the spring ball season.

“We are sorry for all the inconveniences this season has brought due to Covid-19 but we feel this is the best and safest decision for all of our players, coaches, and parents,” the league said.

Century Little League, which plays at the Town of Century’s Showalter park and not in a county park, is working on a decision about player credits toward the next season and the possibility of reusing the same uniforms as a cost cutting measure.

NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Exercise Science Students Stretch Innovation Beyond The Classroom

April 30, 2020

For Dr. Amy Crawley, who teaches in the exercise science program, stretching the boundaries of a traditional classroom environment is par for the course. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the University of West Florida to transition the entire campus to remote instruction for the last half of the Spring 2020 semester, she was prepared to rise to the challenge, testing her innovative teaching abilities even further.

Dr. Crawley teaches Aging and Physical Performance, a practicum course designed to assist exercise science majors in developing an understanding of the complex physiological and psychological changes which accompany advancing aging and subsequent physical behavior.

In addition to completing traditional written and practical exams, students gain hands-on experience by individually prescribing, supervising and evaluating an eight-week strength training program with a local volunteer over the age of 65.

“The aging course is unique in that it already happens outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom,” Crawley said. “The educative growth and development in this course happens through the relationship developed between the student and their senior volunteer. The course has to be managed in a way that develops a student’s professional capacity, while providing a needed service to our local seniors. This experience is enhanced by the sense of community developed by the students and seniors as they become partners in learning and working towards a common goal.”

As the news of the University’s transition to remote instruction broke, students were just starting the strength training portion of the course, utilizing the weight room in the Health, Leisure and Sports Facility. Between training sessions, they were confronted with the reality that they would need to approach their training program in a new format, with new challenges.

“We didn’t know exactly how we would continue to deliver the training experience, but we did know we would try every virtual trick in the book to stay and on schedule and continue to provide this service,” Crawley said. “I asked students to transition their training to online but didn’t dictate how that would happen, as each senior volunteer might require a different approach to make it work. Some students have used email, YouTube videos, texting, and phone calls, while others have used Facetime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Each student did their best to keep their senior moving with our two-day-a-week schedule, and some even upped their senior’s training to four days a week. Many students have said they text or chat with their senior almost every day, knowing how important it is to have that social connection right now.”

Before this semester, senior exercise science major Georgia Spafford said she didn’t consider herself a “virtual fitness” person. She said her experience so far has changed her perspective on workouts outside of the gym, as she’s adapted to meet her senior volunteer’s needs.

“Getting the ball rolling was the hardest part,” she said. “The first day, I dropped off some equipment I had at home and scoped out what he already had so that I could build his workout plan accordingly. I’ve kept it simple so he can maneuver around it pretty easily, creating eight workouts on a basic chart. I didn’t think I would like this as much as I do, but it’s helped me relate so much more to professionals in our field who lead virtual workouts.”

Dr. Crawley said overall, the feedback she’s received from students has been enthusiastic, creative and caring.

“These students have demonstrated that to be an effective professional in exercise science they have to ‘care’ to ‘take care’ of the person they serve,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how well they handled this virtual educative experience.”

Play Ball? Escambia Commission Affirms Youth Sports May Move Forward Soon

April 29, 2020

The Escambia County Commission affirmed Tuesday that youth sports leagues can move forward with practice and play in ballparks owned by the county with restrictions, as long as it does not conflict with any state order.

The commission said practices would be allowed as early as Friday with two weeks before games to provide time to make any needed policy adjustments and to allow youth athletes needed practice time. The first games, such as baseball or softball, could begin as early as May 15.

Youth sports at each county ballpark are managed by independent organizations that will make the decision if they want to play and how they will accomplish required social distancing requirements. Bleachers may be marked off for social distancing, or may be remove altogether.

The commission made it very clear that a parent chooses for their child not to participate, they are entitled to at least a partial refund. Some parks may offer parents the option of rolling fees forward to next year.

Pictured: Opening Day 2019 at the Molino Ballpark. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

FHSAA Officially Cancels Remainder Of The 2020 Spring Sports Season

April 20, 2020

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) said Monday that the remainder of the spring sports season is now official canceled, and there were be no extension of eligibility for athletes.

All FHSAA affiliated events, including the state series and all championship events, for spring sports are canceled.

“The safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, and fans is our top priority,” FHSAA said in statement. “We are deeply saddened for our student-athletes who have seen their seasons and/or high school careers end so abruptly. Our association knows the impact and role high school athletics play in the lives of so many and will continue to work towards the betterment of high school sports. We know this is a trying time, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance to this association.”

The FHSAA had previously held out hope that eligibility for student athletes could be extended, possibly finishing the season after graduation into the summer.

“Under the guidance of the Florida Department of Education regarding grade level retention, and upon review of the Florida Statutes and FHSAA Bylaws, no additional eligibility will be granted for spring sport athletes,” FHSAA said Monday.

“To all our senior student-athletes, we thank you for dedicating your time and efforts to your school, your coaches, and your teammates. Cherish the memories you have made and embrace all that the future holds for you. While we are saddened that you are unable to compete this season, we could not be prouder to have been represented by such hard-working individuals,” FHSAA said.

Pictured: Avery Beauchaine and Cam Wolfenden homered for the Tate Lady Aggies during a Tuesday, March 10 win over Navarre — just days before spring break and a COVID-19 school closure. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

UWF Coach Is Running Seven Marathons In Seven Days To Help Feed The Community

April 12, 2020

Inspired by an ultrarunner in Palm Bay, Florida, who ran 100 miles in one day to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts, University of West Florida cross country coach Caleb Carmichael laced up his Nike running shoes and left his home at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 6. He returned about 3½ hours and nearly 27 miles later, one step closer to his admittedly “crazy” goal.

The 35-year-old Carmichael is running seven marathons in seven days to raise money for Argo Pantry, which provides food to UWF students in need of assistance, and for Feeding the Gulf Coast, a food bank that serves 24 counties throughout the Florida panhandle, South Alabama and South Mississippi. He set up a crowdfunding page through Feeding the Gulf Coast. Argo Pantry asks that donations be made through its wish list on Amazon or by visiting the student support webpage and selecting Argo Pantry as the designation.

“As a community we’re going to have a lot of people lose jobs and not be able to feed their kids and we need to do something about it,” said Carmichael, who is in his seventh year as the UWF men’s and women’s cross country head coach and will complete his fundraiser on Sunday, April 12. “It needed to be something crazy enough for people to take notice. Doing seven in a row is a monumental task.”

Since the spread of COVID-19, Feeding the Gulf Coast reports over a 500% increase in people seeking food assistance. From April 1-7, the organization distributed over 100,000 pounds of food during its mobile panty distributions and distributed 4,000 meals and 4,000 snacks to children in the community. The demand put on food banks nationwide increases each day as the unemployment rate skyrockets from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding America, the largest network of food banks with over 200 affiliates, projects a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months.

Those grim projections motivate Carmichael each morning to lace the Nikes back up and hit the pavement. Last month, he ran 100 miles in a week, capped by a marathon, but seven marathons in seven days—a total of about 186.2 miles—marks a first for him.

“It’s been hard no doubt about it, but I’m just inspired to do something for somebody else,” said Carmichael, after completing his fourth consecutive marathon on Thursday, April 9. “Each day I start off very sore, very tired and kind of work through it. Halfway in I feel better and then toward the end I get tired and worn out. I spend most of the day then resting and eating and getting hydrated so that I’m ready for the next day.”

For more information about Argo Pantry, visit uwf.edu/argopantry.

FHSAA Looks At ‘Creative Solutions’ To Finish Spring Sports Seasons

April 2, 2020

It’s seemingly very unlikely that students will return to Florida high schools in time to finish spring sports, but the Florida High School Athletic Association is looking at “creative solutions” just in case.

The FHSAA said that spring sports could continue through June 30.

“The FHSAA does understand the hardships caused by COVID-19 and the inability to play spring sports. If we are not able to continue spring sports, the FHSAA is working diligently to create a plan regarding additional eligibility for students who have not been able to participate in spring sports,” the FHSAA said in an update.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, fans and local communities are our top priority. We appreciate all member schools’ cooperation in following federal, state and local recommendations and mandates during this time.”

The Florida Department of Education has mandated the closure of schools until at least May 3, which also the ending date of the governor’s new “safer at home” order that asks Floridians to stay home except for essential business.

Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has said sports and extracurricular  activities are canceled through the remainder of the school year.

Pictured: Avery Beauchaine and Cam Wolfenden homered for the Tate Lady Aggies during a Tuesday, March 10 win over Navarre — just days before spring break and a COVID-19 school closure. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Oh How We Miss You! Here’s A Look Back At Opening Day At Youth Ballparks

March 28, 2020

It’s that time of the year for opening day at North Escambia youth ballparks, but so far they are all on hold due to COVID-19.

Here’s a look back at opening day 2019 at three area parks. Click links for a photo gallery.

Cantonment Ballpark

Molino Ballpark

Century Little League

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Youth Ballparks Suspend All Practices And Games, Including Century, NWE, Molino, NEP, Atmore, Flomaton

March 17, 2020

Area youth ballparks have suspended all practices and games due to the coronavirus.

Century Little League

All practices have suspended until at least April 6. Games and opening day should be rescheduled.

Northwest Escambia Bradberry Park

All activities, practices and games are postponed until further notice.

Molino Ballpark

All events, games and practices are suspended until further notice.

NEP Ball Park

All games and practices are suspended for two weeks. There is no field use allowed during the closure.

Atmore Cal Ripken

All Cal Ripken Youth Baseball League practices in Atmore are postponed until further notice.

Flomaton Baseball and Softball Association

All practices and games are postponed until further notice.

File photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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