Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Charles Owens

March 5, 2014

Springing forward and kicking off the new season with early thoughts of summer

— — For a moment, forget the stubborn snow outside that has yet to melt. And ignore the inconvenient fact that our nights are still much colder than what they should be this time of the year. It is March after all. And if you can, try to tune out all of the debate and discussion over climate change for just a few seconds and relish the fact that spring is near. 

In five days we will spring forward. That’s right. We move our clocks forward one hour before we go to bed Sunday morning to mark the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.  But as we leap one hour into the future this weekend, we also lose an hour of sleep as part of this annual late winter ritual. But that’s OK. Because the time change is a sure sign that spring is near and knocking at the door. And while the official spring equinox isn’t until March 20, the days have already been getting longer for several weeks now. And the more daylight you have, the more you can accomplish outside.

It is those warmer days — and hot summer nights — that many of us certainly long for after a season of extreme cold. I personally look forward to cutting off the heat, opening up the window and spending the occasional evening sitting outside soaking in the sun. This won’t happen immediately of course. March is a transitional month. There will still be plenty of cold days both in March and, unfortunately, April. And odds are pretty good that we will still see more snow. But it will eventually begin to get warmer with each passing day. Soon thoughts will turn to spring and summer.

Already we are seeing advance promotions for upcoming summer activities, including this year’s Second Chance Rocks the Two Virginias concert at Mitchell Stadium. This year’s show looks to be big. It will be headlined by the award winning country pop duo Florida Georgia Line with special guest Nelly (yes, that would be Nelly the rapper). Tickets for this year’s show are now on sale. The Second Chance concert has evolved into a major summer attraction for the Bluefield area. And proceeds from the concert benefit a great cause in that of the Second Chance Learning Center.

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It won’t be long before the fair and festival season kicks into full gear across the region. In fact, planning is already underway for the 2014 Cole Chevy Mountain Festival. And in just a few short months the Bluefield Blue Jays and Princeton Rays will be playing again at Bowen Field and Hunnicutt Field. And area sporting fans will have an exciting new addition to look forward to this spring with the arrival of the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors.

The professional soccer team is a member of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League. The group is relocating from Beckley to Bluefield. The team decided to make the move to Bluefield after it was notified last October that the YMCA facility in Beckley would no longer be available to the United Soccer League’s PDL franchise. The new development league will now be based out of the East River Soccer Complex in Bluefield where the home games will be played.

There are more than 100 teams in the United States and Canada in the United Soccer League and the Premier Development League has 64 clubs. The King’s Warriors will play in the five-team South Atlantic Division. Other teams in that division are the West Virginia Chaos, based in Charleston, the Carolina Dynamo from Greensboro, N.C., the Cincinnati Dutch Lions, the River City Rovers of Louisville, Ky., and the South Carolina United Bantams from Greenwood, S.C.

The team is part of the Nehemiah Group, a Christian non-profit organization founded by Dr. James Blume Jr., a Summers County physician, pastor and soccer enthusiast. The new league looks to bring clean, affordable, family fun to the region. We are being told that maximum ticket prices will only be $8 per game and that there will be discounts for youth players. The first game will be Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m. against the South Carolina United Bantams. Everyone should come out and show their support for this inaugural contest.

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If nothing else, thinking about baseball, soccer and walking at the park in the warm rays of summer should be enough to get us through these remaining two and a half weeks of winter. In the meantime, it’s never too early to begin some of those spring cleaning jobs that we’ve been putting off — particularly those that may involve more work indoors as opposed to outdoors.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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