In rural Virginia Beach, members of a youth team are the second generation to wear the Creeds Tractors name

A team whose coaches include moms who once wore John Deere-inspired colors themselves was reborn on the softball field in Creeds with players such as Madi Wilson. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

CREEDS — Kellye Gentry, who had been an assistant coach on another youth softball team, meant to coach this spring. She played youth softball and, as an adult, on a team for Charity United Methodist United Church. And she would coach her daughter, Leah Gentry, 7. 

After conversations with other parents from the community, Meredith Ansell and Jamie Files signed on. Files’ daughter, 7-year-old Layla Capps, and Ansell’s daughter, 8-year-old Gracie Jones, are on the team, too. When it came time for a name, the coaches agreed to revive the Creeds Tractors, for which Ansell and Files played in the 1990s.

Files remembered playing ball in Creeds before there was organized softball, even playing baseball with a boys team. Softball formed here, and a number of girls stayed together – including her friend Meredith.

When that youth team needed gear, they picked up a sponsor – a local family farm  – and they adopted a name that suited a a team backed by agriculture. Though different farmers have favored tractors, Files noted, “We went with the John Deere green.”

“We were the best,” Ansell recalled. “It was just a great group of girls. … That was my life growing up. That’s what I looked forward to – going out, getting together with my friends and playing ball.”

Gentry didn’t play for the original Tractors because Ansell and Files were a couple years older, but she said she was glad to adopt a name that speaks to local heritage.

The reincarnated team, part of the Creeds Athletic Association, carried the Tractors name into competition this spring. Fittingly, they plowed through much of the field. 

The Tractors suffered a loss late in the season, then fell on Saturday, June 10, to the Kempsville Bulldogs during the Virginia Beach Unified Softball League Playoffs. 

Even in that hard-fought final game, the coaches saw a number of positive signs. The team showed grit and heart, coming back from a deficit against a very good team.

“It was the best game ever,” Ansell said later. “A full game.”

The Tractors are a young team, Gentry noted, and they’ll build on this. It’s great to see her child love a game she loves, too. “She not only plays it, she loves it,” Gentry said.

“Any parent would want their child to learn the importance of sportsmanship and to be a team player,” Files said.

The coaches said they value what children learn in youth sports, teamwork, camaraderie and self-confidence – lessons that last when the season is done. 

The Tractors in a 1997 team photo, with Ansell and Files on the left in the front row. [Courtesy photo]
The current Tractors. In the back row of the image above right, from left to right, are Chloey Evans, Kenidy Waterfield, Charlotte Campbell, Layla Capps, Gracie Jones, Avonlea Flanagan [Ed. — She is the niece of John Doucette, editor of The Independent News], Genevieve Cortazzo and Taylor Evans, and Madi Wilson and Leah Gentry are in the front row. [The Princess Independent News]
Coaches Ansell, Files and Gentry. [The Princess Anne Independent News]
Layla Capps is shown at bat during a Creeds Tractors game in May while, in the background, teammate Chloey Evans takes a practice swing while on deck. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Cheering on a teammate at bat with a song are Chloey Evans, Taylor Evans, Kenidy Waterfield and Madi Wilson. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

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