Another Spring Fling came and went last week when more than 4,000 high school athletes competed for state championships in baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and track at various venues in Murfreesboro.
To successfully pull off a carnival event of its type, volunteers from the host city are of the utmost importance if Spring Fling is going to run smoothly. More than 1,000 people volunteered for this year’s 21st Spring Fling and ninth in Murfreesboro.
“It’s safe to say we couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” said Matt Gillespie, assistant executive director for the TSSAA.
“We staff X amount of people, but we literally couldn’t do it without the volunteers.
“There are so many roles that they play, whether it’s taking up tickets, helping with parking, etc. There are just so many things they do and they always do what they’re asked to do.”
Two volunteers, Bill and Sally O’Brien have signed up to help during Spring Fling for the last eight years.
“Well, I think when you’ve always worked all your life you’re ready to give back to the community,” Sally said. “We enjoy the kids that come out to play. They’re very nice competitors. It’s just a good time out there.
“It’s good to see kids doing something that they really enjoy doing and to see kids being competitive. Eventually, it may work into something where they earn college scholarships.”
The O’Briens’ volunteer effort actually goes back to when the TSSAA state golf tournaments were held in Murfreesboro.
“We actually got started in it when they had the golf tournaments at Old Fort,” said, Bill, who admits he’s typically a gopher during Spring Fling. “We kept scores for the kids and got to meet at lot of kids, and we really got to know them.
“We really got to know the people at the Chamber and what kind of job they do to get this tournament in town. They need the volunteer help and this was a great opportunity to get involved.”
Sally, who works at the track and field events at Spring Fling, says she looks forward to the week every year, but admits she’s usually ready for the it to end.
“By the end of the week you’re tired, but it’s still a lot of fun,” Sally said. “We meet a lot of new people all the time, and I really enjoy it.”
While this is the eighth Spring Fling for the O’Briens, it’s safe to say it won’t be their last.
“I think being out there meeting people is what I enjoy most,” Bill said. “You actually don’t get a whole lot of time to interact with the kids, but you do meet a lot of awful nice coaches, parents and officials. It’s a good opportunity to push our community, really. We’ve got it here and we’re making it work.”
As for keeping the Spring Fling in the future?
“We keep encouraging the Chamber to keep pushing it,” Bill said. “It’s a great thing for our community.”
The O’Brien’s are part of a contingent of Moose Lodge members who volunteer each year. Other volunteers this year included Larry Clouatre, Jane Manley, Ken Weber, Tony Wortman and Dennis Furlong.
“One of the objectives of the Moose is to help in the community and with kids,” Bill noted. “The entire community has always done a great job volunteering and help making Spring Fling a success, and we’re always excited to be a part of it.”