PINNACLE CREEK - Bev Riling has her flag and she is going to wave it proudly.
Known locally - and fast becoming known statewide - as the Flag Lady, Riling stands tall for the kids in her community, Pineville, with her flag.
The flag, maroon and white with gold stars, all colors of the old Pineville High School, is a fixture at Pineville Little League baseball tournament games and has garnered notice on a state level. Even an East Coast level.
As she tells the story, the Pineville Little League district champs were playing up in Grant County, and the Pineville girls softball team, which won a state title, was still there. Apparently so were some of the girls from their area team. Riling was there, flag in hand, cheering for her team, and her grandson Jacob, who played on the squad.
"We usually go to Virginia Beach for a July 4th vacation, but that year the Little League ran so long that we weren't able to get our usual place at Virginia Beach," Riling said. "We just lucked into a place at Myrtle Beach. So we were there and we were going into Captain George's Restaurant, where we always go at Virginia Beach, too. Jacob had on his Pineville shirt. We were going in and some girls were coming out and they said, 'Hey, it's Jacob and the Flag Lady.' I got a kick out of that."
Riling said the flag actually sprung from Rally Rags she used to make.
"I dyed a bunch of rags maroon, which isn't an easy color to find," Riling said. "I had to do some mixing. But I would hand them out at games, trying to get people to cheer for the kids. I always tell people, 'This isn't golf. You are allowed to cheer.' I like to support the kids."
The flag idea came about around seven or eight years ago, and she got a friend to make the vinyl maroon Pineville that is written on the flag, on a white backing with yellow stars.
"Problem is, it didn't fly well," Riling said. "So I bought a curtain, a maroon curtain, and sewed it on there," Riling said. "I remember sitting outside the concession stand on the ground, on the day we played, and putting that together. We just cut a branch to use as a pole."
The flag and a star were born that day.
"I never thought it would be what it is, but the important thing is, the kids like it," Riling said.
So much so that kids from Madison and Man both have adopted it in the past. And this year, she put together a flag quickly for both, when they were playing in the championship Wednesday.
Late because of a football boosters meeting Thursday, she made a makeshift flag for both the teams.
Man won the championship and had their picture taken with its flag. Madison players gladly posed for a picture as well.
At heart, she is a Pineville fan. She is a Pineville High School graduate. But as a board member of the Little Warriors Football team - comprising Mullens and Pineville areas both, like the high school - she said it is time to come together at the lower levels.
"I will always be for Pineville but I am for Mullens, too," Riling said. "We are having the Little Warriors this year, and we are going to play at Wyoming East. (Wyoming East) Coach (Larry) Thompson is behind us. Wyoming East Middle School coach Vertis Walls is behind us. We are going to practice there behind the goal post (on the far end of the War Zone) and we are going to be able to play our games on the field. It's going to be a big thing, the Little Warriors."
Still, deep down, the Pineville flag will always hold a special place. It's been to South Carolina and back and at a lot of places in between. People at tournaments all over still talk about the flag lady. Riling wouldn't have it any other way.
"There will always be something special about that Pineville flag," Riling said.
This year she was at a Wyoming East Middle School baseball game (she was given a Warriors flag and her grandson Jacob is now playing high school baseball). She was flying her flag and tensions were mounting.
"Me, being the social butterfly that I am, I went over and struck up a conversation with some of the people beside their dugout," Riling said. "I said, some of you all probably remember my grandson Gabe when he played baseball in Pineville. This guy says, 'Pineville, I love those people. I remember the flag lady.' I said 'Sir, I am that flag lady.'"
And you can bet, she will be flying a flag somewhere and leading the cheers.