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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2019 4 months ago

Griffin Willman gives back to Windermere Little League

A Boy Scout with the Winter Garden-based troop 210, Griffin Willman is helping fund renovations at the WLL softball fields for his Eagle Scout project.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

When it comes to picking an Eagle Scout project, the options are pretty vast.

Many times Boy Scouts take their time to figure out what exactly they want to do, while others like Griffin Willman know right from the get-go: Helping renovate the Windermere Little League softball fields.

“This was pretty much my first choice,” said Willman, a member of Winter Garden-based troop 210. “I knew my Eagle project was coming up, so I had a few ideas, but this is the first one that I acted on and it’s gone pretty well, I think.”

The end goal for Willman was to raise $5,000 to build a gazebo, while also repainting benches and installing solar lighting at the ballfields located behind Windermere Elementary School.

Since his plans to renovate the parks kicked off back in November, things have been rather slow going, Willman said.

The GoFundMe page, which has been up for the last three months, has only raised $820 through 17 people. 

Funding wasn’t the only issue that has been a thorn in Willman’s side, as other outside forces have slowed his progress down a bit.

“It’s been kind of a slow process that has taken me awhile,” Willman said. “It’s been kind of tough because I’ve had to get all of these permits, and it turns out that the Little League doesn’t own all the softball fields — part of it is owned by The Manors Homeowners Association. So I had to get in contact with them, and get approval from them, and that took several weeks.

“Then I had to get a permit for the gazebo from the town of Windermere, so it’s been a pretty lengthy process to build this gazebo,” he said.

Of all of the things being worked on as a part of his Eagle Scout project, the gazebo is the heart, and for good reason.

“Right now there’s not a lot of great sitting areas and the teams like to meet up before and after games to discuss whatever they’re doing,” Willman said. “So I think it’s going to be a great area for them to get together.”

The addition of more shaded space is something that’s welcomed by the coaches, players and parents who have to deal with the hot Florida summers every year.

And honestly, it’s something that has been needed for a long time, said Rex Smith — who coaches softball in the WLL organization and helped Willman get everything in order with the project.

“It’s going to be awesome to have out there at the fields,” Smith said. “There’s a big tree you can stand under, but that’s pretty much it. There’s no place to go — other than the stands — to sit down, so I think just to have a place (where) the girls can gather … it’s what we need.”

Willman and Smith’s connection has been established for a short while now, as Smith coached Willman’s sister last year. Being around the league and the fields was the biggest inspiration for this specific project.

“This was pretty much my first choice. I knew my Eagle project was coming up, so I had a few ideas, but this is the first one that I acted on and it’s gone pretty well, I think.”

— Griffin Willman

Luckily for Smith, and the others who often frequent the ballparks, Willman and a handful of volunteers worked eight hours to get the wooden gazebo up on Saturday, July 13 — completing the main aspect of the renovations.

So what about the rest of the money and other renovations? Willman still plans to keep the GoFundMe page up with the hopes that he’ll reach his $5,000 mark, but if not, then he’ll adapt his plans, he said.

If he gets enough money to cover the solar lighting that would light the pathway leading to the fields, then that would be perfect, he said. If not, he’ll direct funds to cover the gazebo and concrete poured at its base, and any money left over would be donated to Windermere Little League.

While the project has become a big part of his summer, the recent valedictorian of Windermere High School is working on a bit of a time crunch as he tries to finish everything up before he goes to Gainesville to start his first year at the University of Florida. But until then, it’s all about giving back to the organization that has played a role in his family’s life.

“I just really want the league to grow and improve,” Willman said. “They’re always needing donations and renovations … and I just really want to help the league.”

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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