Community follows NY women's vision to rebuild youth softball fields

A group of community volunteers is in the process of transforming the softball facilities at James Street Park

Chris Potter
The Evening Tribune

Jessica Parker is trying to bring a little piece of Texas to the Maple City. 

Parker and her family left the Lone Star State and moved back to her hometown of Wayland in April 2020. A softball coach for about 20 years, she began to search for a new home field to launch a youth program, aptly named Texas Glory.

Parker found a fit in the Hornell community, but there was just one problem. The softball fields at Veteran’s Memorial Park at James Street were in poor condition, certainly when compared to the facilities Parker had become accustomed to out of state.  

“Hornell was very receptive, however the fields were in rough shape. We were kind of like, what can we do to make this happen to make it look like our Texas fields?” Parker recalled. 

The community has responded to Parker’s vision. Working with Sienna Burnett and the Hornell Youth Softball League, as well as Texas Glory parents, Parker and other community volunteers have transformed the main diamond into a field Hornell’s youth can be proud to call home. 

“A lot of dads have really come together and helped me with tearing up the field and we’ve had tons of sand brought in,” Parker said. “The city has been great as far as saying hey, go ahead. We’re about to repaint the dugouts to Hornell colors. Hopefully the next step after that is repainting the wall. It definitely needs some repainting.

"Since it’s technically Veteran’s Memorial Park, I really want to get something done that incorporates both. That’s down the road.” 

The Texas Glory youth softball program held its first official practice at its newly-renovated diamond in Hornell's James Street Park on Tuesday.

Parker has big dreams for the fields at James Street Park. Texas Glory is looking to renovate the other two diamonds next spring to turn the space into a true softball haven, one that’s capable of hosting tournaments that bring in large numbers of teams from across the state. Texas Glory is working with the city to address a lack of water at the facility, and Parker’s plan eventually includes fundraising for a scoreboard. 

“We know that will take longer, but I would love to have a scoreboard down there and really be able to do it up for Hornell,” she said. “They’ve been awesome at allowing us to repaint and all that. We’ll try to work with the city on digging up those other two fields. They’re full of grass now and will definitely need to be dug up. Getting the main field done and solving the water issue are the major priorities right now.” 

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Plans for growth in Hornell 

Parker was born and raised in Wayland, but James Street Park was her go-to as a youth during many weekends spent with her aunt and uncle, the Costello family. The City of Hornell has been targeting an overhaul of both the James Street and Shawmut parks, the timing lining up perfectly with Parker’s renovation efforts. 

“It was a little sad when we came back and the wooden playground was gone and grass was growing everywhere on the field,” she said. “The girls just weren’t able to practice the way they needed to. Sienna has been amazing helping me and directing me to the right places, and Mayor (John) Buckley has been awesome as well.” 

A view of the new-look softball diamond at James Street Park, where a group of community volunteers have transformed the facility this summer.

Texas Glory found a willing partner in the Maple City Youth Softball League, which had about 70 girls in the program this year. 

“We want to continue to grow,” said Burnett. “This is what a lot of families are doing in the evening in the spring.” 

Texas Glory held skills and drills practice sessions throughout the summer and the travel team is preparing for its first games in September. The team consists mostly of Hornell natives, with a few players from Arkport and Canisteo sprinkled into the lineup. 

“All of them were looking for a home field and a team. They’ve fallen in love with Hornell,” said Parker. “There was just a lack of resources. My goal is to have this be the best fields within a certain radius. These tournaments bring a lot of people into the community. It can be done. I used to run tournaments in Texas. We just need the space to do it.” 

Parker credited the help of the Texas Glory parents, the city and the Maple City Youth Softball League with making the transformation possible. The largest expenses have included sand for the diamond and an infield mix for the field. John Senka made a substantial donation of sand this summer. 

The team itself has gotten in on the act.  

“The girls have a raking obligation every practice to get out there at least a half-hour and pull weeds and rake,” said Parker. “They’ve been able to see this whole process. We don’t let them out of anything. 

“One thing Texas Glory teaches is leave it better than you found it. That’s our big motto with the girls and kind of sparked everything. It’s not always about money. A lot of times it’s about people just being willing to help.” 

Chris Potter can be reached at or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.