Sports column: A random Thursday can create plenty of memories

Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2023

The sun was setting behind the trees on Thursday, turning a chilly late afternoon into the kind of cold evening best spent at home in front of a fire.

And yet, as I made the roughly 188-mile walk from Field 6 to the parking lot, Sports Force Parks was just starting to come alive with activity.

On the far end where I was, a high school soccer game and baseball practice were winding down. On a field in the middle of the complex, a couple of parents were working with their pre-teen children on their baseball pitching.

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And on the fields closest to the entrance, dozens — it seemed more like hundreds — of smaller children were engaged in practices and tryouts with various Vicksburg Soccer Organization teams.

Bundled-up parents with weary looks on their faces trudged along the sidewalks toward two hours of frozen misery, only to break into smiles as they met up with friends and watched their children play. The kids, for their part, smiled, laughed, ran and played, oblivious to the 40-degree temperature.

It was just a Thursday night in Vicksburg, but in its own small way it was a truly magical scene. It was more than just little kids burning off some energy, 12-year-olds trying to learn a new skill, or teenage athletes working toward a state championship.

It was the good old days.

All across Sports Force Parks, people were creating tiny memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. The high school baseball players joked with each other as they practiced. The 12-year-olds learned baseball and probably a few life lessons from their dads. The young boys and girls playing soccer formed bonds with their teammates and coaches.

A joke here, a fleeting memory there, all piling on top of one another like snowflakes in the blizzard of life. Every moment was an opportunity for its own little story that will be fondly recalled around a bonfire 20, 30 or 40 years from now.

The tiny scenes hammered home what the magic of sports really is. It’s so much more than throwing or kicking a ball around a field.

It’s events that bring us together as a community. It’s games that teach us about life as we interact and learn to work together. It’s forming individual friendships that can last for decades. At its core, it is life itself. It is all of the good things — the best things — we cherish and strive for.

When I finally reached the car, after about 45 minutes of mingling and shooting photos, I smiled a bit. Maybe the pictures I took that accompany this story will become their own cherished keepsakes some day. Maybe this random Thursday night in January, where nothing special happened, will be one that some people never forget.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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