'It's all about the smiles'

Published 3:34 am Monday, June 5, 2006

By By Matthew Nascone
Coaching youth softball is all about letting the girls have fun and First National Bank &Trust Magnolias manager Bobby Byrd understands this fact.
"I am always telling the girls that they are not playing for me," he said. "I tell them they are not playing for their momma's or daddy's either. They are playing for themselves. And no matter what happens, win, lose or draw, I will be proud of them."
The attitude Byrd has is one that allows him to teach the girls the basics of the game, but let them have fun at the same time.
"It just gets under my skin and I love watching them learn, play and have fun," Byrd said. "And it's all about those smiles."
Byrd, 39, was brought into coaching last year when he helped coach a T-Ball League team and he said he enjoyed helping the children. This year he has taken on the roll of manager for the Magnolias.
Byrd has raised athletic children as all three of his kids play in the Atmore Babe Ruth Fast Pitch Softball League. Two of his three girls, Audrey, 10, and Kristen, 9, play for the Magnolias and Taylor, 12, plays for the United Bank Silver Eagles.
Many people have labeled the birth of a child a miracle, and Byrd is no exception. He said he could think of only three things when he tried to outline his greatest accomplishments in life.
"I think the greatest accomplishment of my life so far is my three kids," he said. "I love them so much and they are great kids."
Byrd said he has been happily married for 13 years to his wife Lisa.
When he is not watching his girls have fun on the softball diamond, Byrd supervises inmates as an officer at Holman Correctional Facility.
He graduated from the Corrections Academy in Selma with distinguished honors in May, 2001.
And when he is not on the field or on the job, he is serving his country as part of the Army National Guard's 711th Signal Battalion out of Atmore.
Byrd is part of Alpha Company and he said his battalion is normally activated for storm damage relief and other humanitarian reasons. During the terrible hurricane season of 2005, Alpha Company was sent to various parts of Louisiana to assist the citizens of that state.
"It felt good to help folks in need," Byrd said. "It felt especially good to help our own people here in the States. We would help them out in various ways. At some times we would help look through the wreckage for any survivors, we would be used for traffic control and in some other instances we were there simply for our presence."
Byrd said he remembers one such trip after Hurricane Rita where every building except for city hall in Cameron, La. was 90 percent destroyed.
As far as experience in the game, Byrd played high school baseball for Escambia Academy and he graduated from the Academy in 1985. He attended the University of Alabama, but did not pursue baseball.
Those four years at Alabama were the only four Byrd has spent as a resident of someplace other than Atmore.
"I love this place because I can walk down the street and see people waving at each other," he said. "And you just don't see that in other places. The people get along for the most part and it is a great place to live."
From the battlefield to the softball field, Byrd has proven to work his hardest in all facets of life. As a corrections officer he knows how to deal with hardened criminals, but shows his soft side on the softball diamond with his 13 Magnolias.

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