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Neil and Jackie Lanham are deeply involved in the Marion County Little League program. The duties are numerous, and they often work long hours just to get everything finished. The Lanham’s have three children, all of which either have or currently are participating in the Little League programs.
The oldest, 15-year-old Clay, played two years of tee-ball, three years of minor league, two years of 9-10-year-old league, four years of 11-12-year-old league, and played five years of All-Stars.
Next is 12-year-old Isaac. Isaac completed all of the same things that his older brother Clay had, and just finished up his last season in Little League.
The baby, 3-year-old Adrian, competed in his first season of tee-ball this year, and looks to follow in the footsteps of his big brothers. Clay and Isaac each played in 10 leagues over an eight-year span, and even played on the same team on one occasion. In 2007, Clay’s team won the region and made a berth in the state tournament.
The Lanham’s don’t stop with just having kids in the Little League program. They are personally involved in various aspects of the nightly routine at the park that most people don’t even notice.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Neil and Jackie have served on the Little League Board for the past seven years. Neil also was an assistant coach in years past, and in 2003 became the coordinator of the boys program. Jackie has been the secretary and the treasurer for the Little League program since 2004.
“I did not know exactly what I was getting into,” Jackie said. “I just knew Little League needed help and I was ready and willing to do what I could.”
The list of she and Neil’s responsibilities include collecting sponsorships from businesses, making schedules for the season, scheduling picture days and times, bookkeeping, assistant coaching, and scheduling sign-ups and tryouts. They are also responsible for taking inventory on concessions and purchasing concessions, which means endless trips to get supplies, counting money, making deposits, paying bills, scheduling meetings, and writing checks to umpires and bookkeepers. Neil and Jackie also order trophies and patches for All-Star uniforms and count tallies from All Star voting. The Lanhams spend a combined 50 hours weekly on Little League duties, and sometimes struggle to squeeze in all of the things they need to get done.
“During the Little League season, a sit down meal prepared at home is very unusual,” Jackie said. “I try to get the kids to eat a snack at home before leaving for the park, but that doesn’t always happen, so a hotdog or a slice of pizza is on the menu. On a game night we will usually stop by McDonald’s or sometimes have Mexican after the game. Fast food is definitely a way of life for us during baseball season.”
Summer vacation is a tricky situation for the Lanham family. When most families are planning vacations, the Lanham’s are busy preparing for postseason play. “Little League is our life, Jackie said. “It definitely takes the whole family to pull it all together. Our lives are so intertwined with Little League that we don’t even realize it. I don’t know how I will separate the two in a few weeks when my time with Little League will come to an end. What will I do with all of my extra time when I am not making endless trips to Wal-Mart or Kroger to pick up hotdogs or buns?”
With the lifestyle of the Lanhams, there is very little free time. On those rare nights when their kids don’t have ball games, the family looks for things to do. “There have been a few nights when our boys didn’t have games. We would be sitting at home looking at each other almost bored, wondering what was going on at the park,” Jackie said. “So we load up our kids and go to the park, perhaps we thought we were missing out on something.”