The Origins of the

South Charlotte Recreation Association
(formerly the Olde Providence Recreation Association)

During the summer of 1970, adults and older teenagers in Olde Providence would make their way to the field behind Olde Providence Elementary School.  An impromptu softball game would begin.  The group would pick sides and start playing.  During these gatherings, the men discussed the idea of creating an athletic program for the youth of the neighborhood.

Shortly thereafter several men in the neighborhood started to put together a football program for kids.  Some the early volunteers and key people in starting the Olde Providence football program were Russ Holder, Mick Houck, Jack Jarrell, Jim LeShock, John McGarity, Charlie Rabb, John Ward, Bob Williams, Stan Winstead, and Bill Carpenter.  The group erected goal posts behind the school.  The youth began playing football games during the fall of 1970.  In addition to the parents, a number of other local residents attended the games.  The games became a neighborhood event for some.

Shortly thereafter, a youth basketball program began to develop under the leadership of Russ Holder.  The first season Olde Providence had 3 teams and also played against teams from South Park and Broadmoor.  Olde Providence negotiated contracts to play their games in the gymnasium at Carmel Junior High School.  Later they also began to play games at South Mecklenburg High School and Randolph Junior High School. 

In early 1971, Milt Wroten contacted several neighborhood sports enthusiasts to see if they would be willing to help form a youth baseball program.  Several people volunteered.  The volunteers decided to affiliate with Dixie Youth Baseball.  This national youth baseball organization provided a good overall program structure while stressing local autonomy.  The first season, Olde Providence had 3 major league teams, 3 minor league teams, and 1 T-ball team.  The fee for participation was $25.  Teams from South Park, Broadmoor, and Sardis Presbyterian were also part of the league.  The first Olde Providence baseball field had a short chain link backstop and no dugouts or bleachers.   When the first outfield fence was added, it was made of orange plastic mesh tied to wooden stakes.  This field was directly behind the basketball court / parking lot on the right side of the property when facing the the school.  

Olde Providence recreation fields

At first, Milt Wroten was the Baseball Director and in charge of finding volunteers and purchasing uniforms.  Don Collins was the Baseball Commissioner and in charge of the scheduling, working with the other associations, setting up and enforcing local baseball rules, and encouraging coaches and parents to be role models for their children.  Collins also volunteered to umpire the major league games as well as many of the minor league games until the program grew large enough to afford paid umpires.  After the first year Wroten had to leave the area due to a job transfer.  Collins ran the baseball program for 9 years.  During this time he worked to develop additional fields and to expand the program for older kids. 

Some of the volunteers for the baseball program and first members/founders of the Olde Providence Recreation Association were Alex Barnette, Ray Borginis, Buddy Bovender, Jerry Faulstich, Bruce Fritz, John McLaughlin, Mike Mulvaney, Ed Nevin, Stan Perkins, Lee Rea, Don Schuette, Eddie Setzer, Tom Swain, and John Ward.

Under the leadership of Barbara Johnson a girls softball program was created in 1974.  The first teams played on a new field that backed up to the houses on Summerlin Place.

In 1974, the future of the Olde Providence football program came into question.  The kids and their parents were losing interest due to the cost of participating and due to some other issues on and off the field.  The 1974 annual association meeting saw a very large turnout with a large show of parents in support of the football program.  However, by 1975 the overall lack of interest and other problems with the football program made disbandment inevitable.

The following season Ray Borginis and Bob Waite stepped forward to organize a very successful youth soccer program.  Olde Providence played teams from Matthews, Park Sharon, South Park, and others.  One of the first soccer teams for 14-15 year olds had so much talent they scheduled games with two local high school teams and beat one of them.

The Olde Providence Recreation Association (OPRA) has continued as a successful youth athletic league since its inception.  Jim Tulley deserves much credit for leading the organization from the mid-1980s to the early part of this century.  He dedicated 25 years to the program and one of the baseball fields was named "Jim Tulley Field" in his honor.  During his tenure, the program has seen much success.  Baseball teams won state championships in the Cal Ripken league.  

With the membership growth, interest in organized football returned and Olde Providence launched a Pop Warner football program in 2005.  Olde Providence currently offers baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, soccer, and softball.  The programs teach fundamentals as well as provide a family atmosphere.  Baseball, softball, and soccer have become year round sports.

Under the leadership of Bob Kirby, the association is taking another step in a positive direction.  The association now serves a much larger area than Olde Providence neighborhood.  In 2010, the association was renamed to the South Charlotte Recreation Association. 

On April 17, 2010, Don Collins was honored by being recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Olde Providence baseball program.  A field is being named Founders Field in honor of Milt Wroten, Russ Holder, Don Collins, and the other founders of the Olde Providence Recreation Association.

Don Collins, Founders Field Presentation

 

 

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