GALLATIN - When the Gallatin Green Wave softball team takes the field Tuesday, April 9 for their District 9AAA game against Beech, they will not have to load into their cars to make the quick trip to Triple Creek Park.
Instead, the Lady Wave will take a walk to the newly-constructed softball field just in front of the school.
For the first time in school history, Tuesday afternoon will mark the school’s first-ever on-campus softball game.
At 5 p.m. former coaches from all Gallatin High School sports will throw the out the first pitch, ushering in a new era for Green Wave softball.
“Everyone is so excited for this new era of GHS softball,” second-year softball coach Mike Raper said of the on-campus field. “There is a lot of history with the Gallatin softball program, and the community really loves their Green Wave athletics, so getting their support was pretty easy. Everyone involved has been amazing in this process.
“I think it will only grow the already tremendous support we have for Gallatin softball when kids can walk out the front doors of school and see us warming up for games. Triple Creek isn’t far but there is nothing like having your own field. This is something very special for us.”
In just two years, Raper has already done so much for the program, which includes an on-field campus, a middle school program and an annual Lady Wave softball tournament.
“There is a ton of history with Gallatin softball and we just wanted to be a part of it in a small way,” Raper said. “Over the years, I’ve seen GHS improve in so many ways and now we have more girls playing travel and summer ball. The community support we have received is something I truly cherish. They have really stepped up and I can’t thank them enough.
“They want kids to be successful, and as a coach, you want your kids to be supported by the community. That is all we as coaches want for our players is to be loved by their community and Gallatin is a special place for that.”
Raper was raised a Commando and graduated from Hendersonville in 1996. It is also where he started his softball coaching career under now retired coach Andy Griffin.
“Coach Griffin was a huge influence in getting me to coach softball,” he said. “Probably the biggest influence. He and coach Serbin are a big reason why I’m here today.”
Even though Raper wore black and gold during high school and his early coaching career, he says the move to Gallatin couldn’t have been easier and he loves coaching for the green and gold.
“When you initially come over, it’s a little strange to put on different colors, but I tell you the transition could not have been any easier or better,” he said. “I love everything about being a Green Wave. The faculty has been amazing to me and I am eternally grateful for the chance they gave me. I love being at Gallatin and the kids here just make it that more special.”
The on-field campus is just the beginning as Raper admits he has big plans for the softball program moving forward.
“We want this program to thrive,” he added. “We want our alumni to come back and see the growth that we are making. I hope this field and vision for the program grows Gallatin softball and gives our little girls a future and something to look forward to. We are excited to host a kid’s camp this year with our alumni helping out to show them the opportunities of playing softball for Gallatin. The program sells itself so it’s up to us just to get the ball rolling. We are taking baby steps right now but I have no doubt we will get to where we want to be.”
There is zero doubt that where Raper wants to ultimately get is being the last team standing come Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, but that process takes time and there are no shortcuts to being the best team in AAA. But right now, that is not the focus for this young team. Currently, Gallatin is living in the moment and soaking up every ounce of pride that comes with having its own field.
“For the first time in school history, we get to have a true home game and that is something special and something I am so grateful to be a part of,” he added. “I guess once the chaos of trying to get everything done wears off, it will be a surreal moment for me.
“But there is more than just me that has put time, energy and effort into this and so I hope all those that gave a little or gave a lot takes the same amount of pride in this because they too are a part of this and we couldn’t have done this without them. I also want to thank all those players, coaches and administrators that came before me. I am a big history person and there is no doubt we wouldn’t be here without them. They laid the groundwork to make this day possible.”
Local companies that contributed to the creation of Gallatin’s new field include: All-Access, Alley-Cassety Brick and Block, Gallatin Electric, Gallatin QB Club, Garrott Brothers, Holleman Trucking, Maintenance Crew at Sumner Board of Education, Premier Woodworks and Sports Turf Solutions.
Individuals who contributed to the creation of Gallatin’s new field include: Johnnie Anderson, Brandon Barlow at Gallatin Electric, Dr. Ron Becker, Andy Brown, Jason Curtis, Dennis Hackett, Chris Harrison, Neil Miller, Ryan Morriaty and Chris Tuck.