Youth sports: Keigers recognized for years of service

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Staff report

CHINA GROVE — The China Grove Civitan Club named Dale Keiger Civitan of the Year in 1973.

Who knew that his community service would continue for five more decades?

At 92, Keiger is still helping out.

The Keiger family store, Dale’s Sporting Goods, is one those institutions that is synonymous with China Grove. The business is also the flagship sponsor for the popular countywide basketball tournament — the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.

The store opened downtown in 1954 as the “Young Men’s Shop” when Keiger was in his mid-30s.

The store’s name was changed to Dale’s Sporting Goods in the 1970s.

From that store came sports apparel and sports equipment that garnerd a positive reputation throughout the region.

The store also became a hub of China Grove youth sports, the place where the kids went to sign up to play baseball and softball.

The contributions of Keiger and his wife, Gayle, extended from the store to the community to the China Grove Ball Field in Cannon Park.

The Keigers volunteered at the field wherever they were needed, whether it was coaching, supplying equipment, providing uniforms, helping with maintenance, or assisting in the concession stands.

They did it well and they did it faithfully for a very long time. All for the love of the game and the young ballplayers.

On a recent Tuesday evening, the Keigers’ steadfast years of service were recognized. The China Grove Service Club,  China Grove Youth Sports and the Town of China Grove held a dedication ceremony for the concession stand at the Cannon Park Ballfield.

“My parents were just stunned and quite honored and a lot of emotions went through them as you can imagine,” Catawba graduate Kevin Keiger said.  “My father spent a lot of years at the ball field and my mom spent a lot of nights and years up there as well.”

The new sign above the concession stand reads “Dedicated to Dale E. and Gayle M. Keiger in recognition and appreciation for their contributions to youth sports and community development.”

“The Keigers have been very, very supportive of youth sports,” said China Grove Service Club president Ron Overcash. “They have helped us make a lot of decisions that turned our program into what it is today.”