MONTVILLE, NJ – A little drizzle didn’t dampen the spirits of the boys and girls who participated in Montville Baseball and Softball Association’s opening day parade and ceremony April 22.

The parade started at Lazar Middle School and wound up at the township’s municipal fields.

See a slideshow of the parade here:

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Hilldale fifth grader Ava Zurawlow sang the National Anthem. MBSA President Shane Force said he coached her when she played t-ball in kindergarten.

See video of her performance here:

Montville resident Chip Nelson then gave the prayer. Nelson is a former minor league baseball player and Chaplain for the Somerset Patriots minor league baseball team.

Force then thanked Joe Monetti for his years of dedication to the MBSA.  

“Thank you for your six years as president of the MBSA and for persevering through good times and bad,” he said.

Although Larry Manfra was unable to attend, Force thanked him for being a past president of the MBSA.

“He was instrumental in making the indoor batting cages at fifth base a reality,” Force said. “Those cages are a huge asset to our program.”

Force and the other board members honored former MBSA president and treasurer Tim Holmes with a plaque.

“Tim was treasurer for more than a decade, and he is still a trusted advisor,” Force said. “He was a key member of the team who worked with the town extensively to make the indoor batting cages a reality.”

The 12U travel baseball players were then saluted, as they were two-time spring league champions, two-time summer league champions, and two-time district champions. Their head coach is Brian Hanzl, with assistant coaches Alex Colatrella and John Probst.

Montville Township High School girls varsity softball coach John Immediato then introduced his team and told the young players, “these girls started out here, like you all.” He encouraged the players to work hard so that they could join the team some day.

MTHS boys varsity baseball coach Joseph Cardinale introduced his team, stating his team is having a great year. He wished the “junior” players good luck with their season.

Officials from Lincoln 1st Bank presented the MBSA with a check for $18,000 which is being used to purchase new catchers gear for all of the recreation and travel teams and towards field maintenance.

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Phil Vaz said that the bank takes pride in giving back to the Montville Township community, and they are excited to be working with MBSA because they have a “lot of passion about Montville.”

“Our current management team is made up of three Montville Township High School graduates, including myself,” Vaz said. “Being able to stand here today, on these same fields that we once played on, representing the MBSA, truly means a lot.”

He also said the bank will make a donation of $25 to MBSA when players’ family members or friends open a new deposit account at Lincoln 1st Bank.

Finally the Olohan family of Pine Brook came to the mound to talk about the $10,000 donation they made for improvements to Muni 3. Ryan Olohan talked about how much his family loves kids, sports, and most of all, Montville Township.

“It is a great honor to sponsor field three in honor of my father,” Olohan said. “Ever since I was little, people would tell me, ‘I know your father, and he is a great man.’”

Olohan said his father passed before his daughter, Anna Kate, was born, but his father always instilled the value to him and his siblings that, “whatever you do, always do your best.” Olohan said he feels this translates to the “real world,” because one will always bring benefits to those around you.

“‘Today I did my best, and tomorrow I’ll do better’ is a great motto,” Olohan said. “If every day you do your best, you will always be a winner.”