Area youth sports took a major hit from this week’s tornadoes that raked Dayton and several of its major suburbs.
Youth athletic facilities in Trotwood, Brookville and Beavercreek dodged the destruction. Houses, businesses, streets and even a school in those locales did not.
Sports complexes that weren’t so lucky were the Northridge Little League Baseball fields on Wagner Ford Road and the Riverside Amateur Baseball Association fields next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Both those multiple-field facilities have closed and are undertaking extensive cleanup.
»» PHOTOS: Area tornado damage
The brunt of tornado damage to an area youth sports facility was absorbed by Action Sports Center in Dayton. The sprawling complex nestled off Route 4 is home to thousands of select baseball, indoor and outdoor soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, BMX racing and flag football participants.
The roof of its indoor complex is displaced and its walls are listing. Debris, mostly torn insulation but also uprooted signs from Route 4 and nearby Valley Street, litter the 60-acre facility.
For the estimated 30,000 and more participants and parents who annually venture there, Action Sports Center is unrecognizable. It also is closed for the remainder of the summer.
The tornado that touched down in Dayton early Tuesday morning “came right through us,” said Action Sports Center COO Kyle Coby. “The damage is crazy.”
»» RELATED: Nine tornadoes confirmed
Thirteen tornadoes in Ohio have been confirmed by the National Weather Service in Wilmington since a storm system ravaged the Miami Valley on Memorial Day. The damage was widespread. At least 200 residents have been hospitalized with tornado-related injuries. Governor Mike Dewine declared a state of emergency for Montgomery, Greene and Mercer counties.
Parts of the Brookville High School roof were torn off and many nearby homes damaged. Untouched was the popular Golden Gate Park in Brookville. Located near the Interstate-70 exit, it’s home to the Brookville Baseball Club, men’s and women’s softball and includes a peewee football stadium.
“The diamonds are up and running,” said Heather Barr, BBC president. “It’s the people of the community that need help.”
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Also untouched were massive Rotary Park and the 24-acre Ervin J. Nutter Park in Beavercreek, despite widespread damage elsewhere in the Greene County community. Rotary Park is a hotbed for summer baseball, softball and youth soccer.
The Beavercreek Community Athletic Association uses Nutter Fields, located next to Factory Road and close to Rotary. The Beavercreek Fastpitch Association plays its games at the high school, Ferguson Freshman School and Coy Middle School. “We’re OK,” BFA president Penny Wagner said. “We have minor debris only.”
Not OK is the Riverside Amateur Baseball Association athletic complex. A cluster of five adjoining fields – three for baseball and two for softball – two remain unplayable for its 3,000 participants. A massive tree fell, crushed a fence and landed on an infield. The backstop to another infield is overturned and covers home plate.
»» RELATED: How to get help
Games have been canceled through Friday, “and that’s being generous,” said RABA president Jon Wagner. “Two of our fields are completely trashed. That’s the best way to put it. It’s devastating.”
Wagner said bottled water and food cooked on grills are available at the fields free to the public. Power hadn’t been restored to the complex as of Wednesday afternoon. Wagner said he’s also waiting on a property damage insurance assessment.
“We’re glad that nobody was there and nobody was hurt,” he said. “Things like this can be replaced, but people’s lives cannot. That’s the most important thing. I feel bad and really hurt that we had to cancel these games because it’s what these kids look forward to. But when it comes down to their safety, that’s my main concern.”
»» RELATED: Greene County declares emergency
The three Northridge fields, located next to extensively damaged Grafton Kennedy Elementary, are “a complete loss,” said NLLB president Mandi Worthington. All fencing is down and dugouts are roofless. The remainder of its youth baseball season has been canceled.
“We’re going to need some new ballparks built,” Worthington said. “We were vandalized over the winter and had to fix the dugouts, concessions and paint, just a bunch of stuff. Then this.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Meadowbrook Golf Club announced it is closed “until further notice.” Located in Clayton and near where Trotwood was hit hardest, the public course has no water or power and has “extensive damage.” Nearby Hara Arena was shredded in places.
»» RELATED: Trotwood declares emergency
It’s the same at Action Sports Center. The athletic complex is home to Midwest Ohio Baseball, a popular select baseball program that draws players ages 8-15. Its eight baseball fields are in constant demand. Three of its youth diamonds were converted to FieldTurf in 2017.
Coby said 22 weekend baseball tournaments were scheduled at Action, from March through July. Those events typically draw 30-100 teams and serve as Action’s “main money generator,” he said. A recent tourney drew teams from 20 states.
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Coby said Action is covered by liability and property insurance. Still to be determined is the “Act of God” assessment, which often accounts for weather-related damage and isn’t covered by insurance. Coby has contacted many area athletic facilities in hopes of moving weekend tournaments at those locales.
“We’re trying to figure it all out,” he said. “It obviously would be a goal of ours to rebuild bigger and better than ever. But, really, we don’t know what we’re going to do until we hear more.”
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Coby said he hopes to entice 1,000 area residents by a Facebook post for cleanup help. Most of it is debris, but “it’s all over the place,” he said. “We will take anybody and everybody who can help. All it is, is feet on the ground and hands.”
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