The annual Blue and White game, a long-standing tradition, will launch the 2015 season for the Palmetto High School baseball team at Coral Reef Park Panther Field on Jan. 31.
The season-opening event will see freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams facing off in an exhibition-style game to showcase their talents for the regular season. Every year, the game draws local crowds, includingPalmetto’s faculty, students, alumni and many Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay leaders. The band, cheerleaders and other athletes will turn out to support the team for the start of the season.
Jay Rokeach, the play-by-play announcer for the University of Miami Hurricanes, will be on hand to introduce the Palmetto players, including the 13 seniors on the varsity squad.
This year, the Panthers will use the event to honor veteran Palmetto High Athletic Director Yvette McKinney, a Palmetto alumni who has been a part of Panther history for 40 years. McKinney served as head of athletics for the past 28 years and, as a student, she was a player on several Palmetto sports teams, including volleyball, basketball and track-and-field.
After spending four decades with the school, McKinney says there is a very good reason she elected to stay on at Palmetto.
“Its an honor to be able to stay in the same place,” said McKinney. “I’ve had opportunities to go other places, but I know this is where I need to be. I look at what I gave to the school, but they don’t understand that they gave me so much in return.
“My reward is seeing kids walk across the stage and graduate, and be successful later on. Once they go out the door, it’s amazing to see the things they accomplish because of the foundation they got here at Palmetto.”
The Palmetto Blue and White game has evolved over the years and has been adapted by other athletic programs at the school. The continued success of the events inspires other student athletes to get their chance to present themselves to the community.
“I think the event will grow even bigger in the future,” says McKinney. “There are other teams here that want to have a similar Blue and White game. The boy’s basketball team had one before their season started. They went to the baseball game and said, ‘We should do something like this!’ Softball has a game on a smaller scale and the baseball team has really set the bar high.”
The Blue and White event and game will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free and a barbecue lunch will be available for purchase. Some school athletic apparel will be sold for fund raising.
The Panthers’ varsity team faces off against Keys Gate Charter School for their first game of the regular season on Feb. 9. For more information, go to palmettopantherbaseball.com.