'I have been hoping they want to play'
By By Matthew Nascone
Larry Bonds has had one of his dreams come true this year. He has been able to coach his little girl in softball.
"Ever since my kids were born I have been hoping they would want to play sports," Bonds said.
He is the manager for the Hendrix's Tractor Balers of the Atmore Babe Ruth Fast Pitch Softball League's 6-9 year olds division. Tabitha Bonds, 7, is on that team and Bonds said he is never able to rest.
"She wants to play all the time," he said. "And she will tell me 'But the equipment is in the back of your truck daddy.' And how can I say no to that."
Bonds taught his children the way of sports and he said his younger daughter Ariona, 6, has already showed interest in playing next year. And his son Randall, 3, is swinging a bat and throwing a ball already.
"He is left handed and he can hit and catch," Bonds said. "But playing sports is in all my kids' blood. I played for four years at the high school and my sister, Lori, played all sports at the Academy. They were raised watching sports."
Bonds said it is tough being a single father, but he would not trade any of his kids for the world.
Bonds saw the playing field himself for his entire life since he was 3 years old. Bonds played on the varsity baseball team for Escambia County High School until he graduated in 1994.
He was offered a scholarship to play at Jefferson Davis Community College, but he turned it down to work at Hartley Saw Repair straight out of high school. And since then he has worked for his father, Larry Bonds, at Bonds Saw Repair. He has also worked at Southern Aluminum and is currently employed at Baywood Products in Loxley where he is a maintenance supervisor.
But his true love is out there on the softball diamond where he said he feels at home.
"I love every minute of coaching these girls," he said. "This is my first year of coaching and it is a different world coaching 13 of them instead of my own two. But I have good kids and great parents on the sidelines."
His coaching style is simple, do what we can to win, but have fun doing it.
"My main point is to have fun," Bonds said. "Because we all want to win, but it means nothing if the girls don't have fun. And we have come a long way since day one. As long as they try then I am happy."
Bonds said he realizes these first few years are where the sport catches on with the girl, or it doesn't.
"These first years are where it counts," he said. "If they have fun they will be back and if they don't have fun then they may not be back next year. And we want as many back next year as possible."
As the season winds down and the summer heats up, one thing will be for certain. Larry Bonds' Balers will have had fun and learned a thing or two along the way.