Along-standing tradition is set to begin the season for the baseball program at Palmetto High School. The annual Blue and White game is coming back to Panther Field on Jan. 31 at Coral Reef Park.
The season opening event allows the school’s freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams to face off in an exhibition style game to preview their talents for the regular season.
The game is known for drawing local crowds each year, including Palmetto’s faculty, students, alumni and several Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay community leaders.
The band, cheerleaders and many other athletic programs will be in attendance to cheer on the team for the start of the season. Jay Rokeach, the Voice of the Miami Hurricanes, will come out to introduce the players to the community, including the 13 seniors on the varsity squad.
This year, the Panthers are using the event to honor one of the their own. The school is set to pay tribute to veteran athletic director Yvette McKinney. A Palmetto alum, McKinney has been with the school for 40 years, serving as the head of athletics for the past 28. During her time as a student, McKinney played for several of Palmetto’s sports teams including volleyball, basketball as well as track and field. After spending four decades with the school, she says there is a reason she hasn’t left.
“It’s an honor to be able to stay in the same place,” McKinney said. “A lot of people can’t say that. I’ve had opportunities to go other places but I know this is where I need to be. I look at what I give to the school but they don’t understand that they give me so much in return.
My reward is seeing kids walk across the stage and be successful later on. Once they get out the door its amazing the things they can accomplish because of the foundation they get here at Palmetto.”
The Blue and White game has evolved tremendously over the years and now is being adapted by other programs at the school. The event’s continuous success inspires other student athletes to get their own chance at presenting themselves to the community.
“I think it’s going to grow even further in the future,” McKinney said. “There are other teams in the school that would like to do a Blue and White game. The boys basketball team did it before their season started. They went to the baseball game and said ‘We should do something like this.’ Softball does it on a smaller scale and the baseball team has really set the bar high.”
The Blue and White game will be played at the Panthers’ home field from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and a barbecue lunch will be available for purchase. Some of the school’s athletic apparel will be sold as a fundraiser.
The Panthers’ varsity team faces off against Keys Gate Charter School for its first game of the regular season on Feb. 9.
For more information visit palmettopantherbaseball.com.