Opening Season

Ask anyone who has lived in Sunbury more than forty years how the Big Walnut Youth Athletic Association (BWYAA) formed and the answer is rarely the same. It seems everyone's father, mother, aunt, uncle or grandparent was integral with its formation and many, many more involved with its development. This is not to suggest we are being misinformed; time has stolen people, challenged memories and eliminated most of the documentation. Accepted as fact is the BWYAA was officially given life on Thursday, September 12, 1974. On that date, the Articles of Incorporation submitted by Clifford E. Hill, Ray L. Grden and William F. Richardson were accepted by the State of Ohio creating the BWYAA as a non-profit youth sports program. At that time, the BWYAA became the first officially recognized youth sports venue in the Village of Sunbury. Our specified purpose was "the organization, supervision, and regulation of individual and team athletic events for the children of the Big Walnut School District community, and all things necessary and incident thereto." The history of our program, however, is rooted much deeper than the approval of a license to operate. The BWYAA stands as a testament to volunteerism and community support spanning over four decades.

Dolphins, Circa 1980s (image compliments of Mindy Edwards-Runyan)

It is important to recognize the birth of the BWYAA occurred during a tumultuous era. Throughout the 1970s families across the United States became victim to the rapid decline of discretionary spending as a result of the petroleum and energy crises which opened and closed the decade. In an effort to conserve both, this ten year span saw the United States introduce a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour, two years of year-round daylight savings time, the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, gasoline rationing and a number of other notable conservation efforts. Locally, the impact of these crises forced Big Walnut families to make tough decisions around transportation, evaluate basic needs and prioritize extracurricular activities. If a Big Walnut family had a son interested in football or a daughter interested in cheer leading, they generally travelled to neighboring towns or counties for practices and games. These crises made travel, even short distances, more costly, difficult and stressful. Through the volunteer efforts of many families over these forty years, our community maintains one of the oldest, contiguous youth sports programs in our area.

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