Special to The Times
The Cullman Times
Wallace State Community College dedicated its softball field at Bobby McCracken Stadium to longtime program supporter H.D. “Pete” Harris in between games of its Friday doubleheader against Alabama Southern. The event occurred almost 10 years to the day since the first game was played on that field on April 24, 2003.
Harris was instrumental in the planning and construction of the Wallace State softball field, donating countless hours of his time as a professional surveyor and expert in field construction. He worked meticulously with contractors to ensure the field was built correctly to NCAA and NJCAA specifications and ready for play during the 2003 season.
The Wallace State Lady Lions hosted the 2003 NJCAA District Playoff on the new field and went on to qualify for their first NJCAA National Tournament appearance, beginning an era of success for the program that has included seven ACCC Division 1/NJCAA Region 22 Softball Championships, seven NJCAA National Tournament appearances, one national championship (2008) and two national runner-up finishes (2009, 2010).
“In getting to know Mr. Harris, I’ve learned that he is very prideful of Wallace state’s softball program, players and facility,” Wallace State president Vicki Hawsey said. “We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers, and it means a lot when you have a gentleman to give of himself in ways that he doesn’t have to do. He has made a difference in many, many lives, including mine.”
Since working on the softball field’s construction, Harris has become a fixture with the program as a volunteer who not only knows what needs to be done before it is even asked of him, but who makes it his responsibility to do whatever work is needed. It is rare for him to ever miss a Wallace State home game.
“Pete has donated his time hauling dirt, scrubbing the seats in the stadium and scrubbing whatever else needs cleaning here. He mows the grass and anything else to help Wallace State athletics. He even did the surveying for the soccer field,” softball coach Jayne Clem said. “Anything he could do to make a coach’s life easier, he’s done at Wallace State.
“He has been a friend to our program for many years, and I think it’s fitting that we can name the softball field in his honor,” Clem said.
Harris is widely respected and admired by athletes, staff and community members for his servant leadership. His enthusiasm for the Wallace State softball program and influence in the community has made him an excellent spokesperson for the program.
“It means everything to me, especially since everyone worked so hard to make it happen,” Harris said. “I appreciate and love so much coach Jayne Clem, Dr. Vicki Hawsey, Dr. Tomesa Smith and all of the people in the athletic department. They are all good friends and have been good to me.”
In addition to his service to Wallace State, he has held volunteer leadership positions with the Cullman County Park and Recreation Board of Directors, the Cullman Housing Authority Board of Directors, as league organizer and coach of youth sports teams, and as a community league player himself for many years.
Harris’s favorite Wallace State softball memory thus far: “It meant a whole lot to me when we won the national championship (in 2008). All seven of those state championships aren’t bad either.”
He’s looking forward to many more great moments for Wallace State softball on Pete Harris Field.
The resolution to name the field after Harris was approved this month by the Alabama Community College System Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich and the Alabama State Board of Education.