PEMBROKE — Royce Cummings had a head of hair when he got on the float for the Pembroke all-stars parade through town on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the team’s Dixie Softball World Series championship.
That all changed at the ceremony held at the Milton Hunt Memorial Park for the team at the end of the parade route. Cummings held up his end of a bargain set by the coaching staff for the team at a practice earlier in the summer, and his hair was buzzed off with each swipe of the barber clippers from players, coaches and family members.
“We were in practice and they were struggling. Practice wasn’t going good, and I know with our girls they have to have some motivation,” Cummings said. “What Coach Eric (Deese) did was take them to another dugout and made a deal with them girls that they give everything they’ve got and win the World Series, Coach Royce will let you cut his hair.
“They came back out there laughing and were hustling. I told them that, ‘If this is what it takes to get you hustling, I will do it.’”
Last Wednesday night, Pembroke won the Belles championship with an 11-1 win over Mississippi to cap off an 11-1 record through the district, state and World Series tournaments, making Cummings’ haircut the most rewarding haircut he had ever had.
“As each game got closer, they would come into the dugout and look at me and laugh and say, ‘Coach Royce, vroom,’” he said while rubbing his freshly cut hair. “That just gave them motivation.”
With outside motivation helping lead the way, Tuesday’s parade was to show appreciation to those who helped support the team in person at games, as well as financially to make the trip to Alexandria, La., and win the title.
“It’s indescribable. I’m kind of overwhelmed right now,” Deese said. “To see the community to come out and the outpouring of support, it’s amazing.”
The parade down Third Street was held in conjunction with National Night Out. It was Pembroke’s way of showing appreciation for the team that got redemption after falling short last year. This was also the third Belles World Series title brought back to Robeson County in three years.
“There’s talent here. It’s a diamond in the rough,” Deese said. ”I told them not to be satisfied with this. Greater things could come about from this. They are soaking it in and enjoying everything.”
The entire roster for the Pembroke all-stars were either freshmen at Purnell Swett or rising freshman, and will join forces with a roster that is coming off a Robeson County Slugfest championship and an appearance in the second round of the NCHSAA state playoffs.
“Coach (William) Deese is actually getting a bunch of studs coming in and he’s going to have his work cut out,” Eric Deese said. “It’s a good job to have with all the talent coming in and what’s coming back. I’m expecting a big up-rise from Purnell Swett.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.