PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – One local softball team is playing for more than just wins this week in the USFA World Series at the Panama City Beach Sports Complex and Frank Brown Park.
North Florida Legacy is also going by another name this week, Team Chip Seal, in honor of late Bay County resident and sports lover, Chip Seal.
Seal had a hand in creating the Panama City Beach Sports Complex when he was on the Tourist Development Council. However, he never got to see a game player in it as he passed away after a battle with cancer before it was built.
“He is a guy who poured into our local athletics so you want to keep him alive cause there’s not many people who do that,” North Florida Legacy player Emily Stone said.
North Florida Legacy wasn’t the first team to honor Chip Seal with the name change. A team at the USFA Tournament last year did it, but wasn’t going to play in this year’s tournament so they asked the North Florida Legacy coach if they would want to play in honor of Seal this year.
“That was pretty much given to us to take over for this year and we want to try and keep this going for as long as we can, as long as they allow us to,” North Florida Legacy coach Jamie Pettis said.
The team wears Seal’s name across their chest and on their sleeves and has adopted the motto “Seal Strong.”
“We try and say it every time before we go in the dugout to go hit and then at the end of each game,” Stone said.
Even though most of the team never got to meet Seal, they went by his memorial at the front of the complex and know how important it is to play every game for him.
“You know we know what he stood for and that this whole complex is built in his name so he must be an important guy and it’s pretty important to us to get to play for him,” North Florida Legacy player Lauren Freed said.
Seal’s widow and daughter came by the complex on Wednesday to see the team and thank them for keeping his legacy going.
“He’s watching now. That’s big, that’s bigger than anything these girls could ever play for in my eyes. Having to play for someone that went through the battles he had to go through. We are here on his fields, his fields, playing for him, in his honor,” Pettis said.