CEDAR LAKE | If Shirley Mudy were in charge of national finances, "fiscal cliff" and "sequestration" would likely not be part of the country's lexicon.
"Whatever we did or got, she made sure we could afford it," Cedar Lake Girls Softball president Becky Villa said of the league's longtime treasurer. "If the money wasn't there, she put her foot down so we wouldn't put ourselves in debt, but because of the way she handled our budget, the money was always there for what needed to be done."
And the concession stand was often well-stocked.
"She was always looking for specials on hot dog buns (or) Pepsi, and she would go out and do the shopping herself," league vice-president Larry McMillan said. "She was a miser, but she was also a peacemaker, a great coach and a great mentor, for the players and the coaches.
"She was a great lady."
Though Mudy emphasized fiscal discipline and restraint during her tenure, she and her husband Stanley were willing to gamble their own wealth for the sake of the kids when they put their house up for collateral while backing the construction funding for the league's complex.
Stanley was also a league fixture for more than three decades as a coach and volunteer. Often, the two would spend and celebrate their anniversaries at the fields.
"Together, along with a few others, they were the foundation of every summer of my life for 20 plus years," said Erin Hillebold, daughter of Villa. "They were my first coaches. I was only 5 years old, too young to start playing back then, but when they saw me hit from a Tee, they said, 'She can play' and picked me for their team."
Erin's 13-year-old daughter, Halie, plays in the league, and her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, is due to start this spring.
Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Mudy won't be there to help introduce another generation to the game. On Aug. 8 of last year, Shirley died shortly after battling back an illness. She was 70. Then just 10 weeks later on Oct. 17, Stanley died at the age of 82.
"I have to mention we lost another valued person to the league," Villa said of former league secretary Joan Torrence, who died Nov. 19 at the age of 82. "She stepped down some years back. She was also a passionate volunteer."
Initially, Shirley wasn't a volunteer — more like draftee to fill a coaching vacancy.
"The league was holding a fundraiser, and Shirley decided to contribute by selling popcorn," Villa said. "So she came there with popcorn, and left with a team."
McMillan, who is the varsity softball coach at Hanover Central, also became an unwitting longtime league volunteer after helping his daughter prepare for her first softball season. He later coached the Wildcats to the school's first and only team state title in 2004.
"About all of those girls from that team came through the program," McMillan said. "Many of the girls I have now have also come from there. And they all knew Shirley, and Shirley knew them and would follow what they did in high school.
"We'll never be able to replace her."
Villa and Hillebold say as the season approaches, the loss will likely feel even greater.
"I know there are going to be some girls wondering why Mrs. Mudy is no longer working in the concession stand," Villa said. "It's going to be hard to explain to them why."