From the Opening Ceremonies on Thursday all the way through to the last out in the championship game late Saturday night, the tournament was an enormous success!
Thursday night was a blast! About half of the 40 teams came out to show off their skills and a few of our cuties came out to cheer them on. SLCC softball team came out to host a mini-clinic, as well. We got the music going and awarded prizes in our four areas of competition.
I received a text from a coach from a team not playing in our tournament asking Lee and I to come out to their game after our own activities Thursday night. So, we headed south at 10:00 p.m. and were met by the 16u team, Utah Flash. They wanted to express that although they were too old to play in our tournament, they still loved Wacky Warriors and had decided to go ahead and raise money to fight cancer. They presented us with a check and a fantastic group hug! All of their jerseys had the word “FAMILY” on the back, rather than their own names. They also have three separate jerseys: one with a pink ribbon (for breast cancer) on the back, one with an orange ribbon (for leukemia) and one with a gold ribbon (childhood cancer). As Lee and I walked back to the car (I may have been floating), I told him, “I think my heart may very well explode before this weekend is over.” So ended day one.
Friday consisted of pool games and tournament play. My crew and I headed up the 14u teams at the Larry H Miller complex; Lee was with the 12u’s at Valley and Kelsey headed up the 10u’s at Vista. Here is an excerpt from Kelsey about her day:
“I walked into Vista ballpark on Friday for our family’s annual Wacky tournament. It’s a charity softball tournament that raises money and awareness for childhood cancer research. My older brother, Nick, founded the tournament when he was going through treatment. Later that night I was approached by an older gentleman who offered a donation and talked to me about how he loved what we were doing to raise awareness. He had a retired service dog with him. He was the cutest yellow lab ever! I asked if I could pet his dog and asked what he named him. He replied, “Nick.” I thought I heard it wrong and asked him to repeat the name. “Nick.” I looked around at everyone around me to see if they realized how crazy this was!! I just petted the dog and he went on his way. This cute old man had no idea what just happened! ❤ It’s the little things that keep me going!”
Saturday also proved to run smoothly, although behind schedule. I was ok with that as the weather was picture perfect. The 12’s & 10’s eventually made their way over to my fields as the championship games would all be played here. As usual, handing out tee shirts to teams as they were eliminated left Lee, Kelsey and I emotionally vulnerable.
For me, I was able to include Cami Benincosa – she is a softball mom whose daughter has played in the Wacky tournament before and is also a cancer survivor (she completed treatment last summer after being diagnosed with a childhood cancer). She was also able to attend a First Descents camp this spring. She shared her story with the various teams, explaining how this very tournament has come full circle in her life. It was kind of cool to see the connection that was started by Nick over 9 years ago to support First Descents to now having one of our very own softball family members actually benefiting from the softball players participation.
Lee, Kelsey and I have several tender stories from having the benefit of watching the connection between the teams and cuties – everyone was impacted. Here is a portion of an email we received:
“Playing in the Wacky Warrior tournament was the highlight of the year for ME. I know softball is a team sport and the tournament surely had a positive impact on every member of our team (12U Twisters), but this hits home for me as I know it does you. What you’re doing is phenomenal. ….
….We’ve built a bridge with this family that will never go away. She will be our cutie forever and we couldn’t be more grateful for the Wacky Warrior foundation for helping us make this connection.”
Here are some pictures of the championship games:
And this picture of a coach while Kelsey is presenting the team with their medals is priceless:
And finally, two teams had the opportunity to raise money for their cutie with the pledge from Wacky Warriors to match their donation amount. The Smash teams raised $600 for their cutie, Zane, but asked if we would forward on the matching $600 to another cutie. Meanwhile, Utah Thunder raised $1,900 for their cutie, Max. So, tonight, the Smash and Thunder teams presented a check for $4,400 to Max and his family. This is totally what this tournament is all about and we couldn’t be more proud of not only these two teams, but all 40 teams that participated in the tournament, raising various amounts for donations.
Our sincere appreciation to all the volunteers that came out to make this tournament so fun; to the umpires that worked numerous games back-to-back without breaks, but with a smile; to the coaches who are teaching their girls the importance of life skills, as well as softball skills; to the parents who are guiding their daughters to step outside their own lives and express compassion to those in their own community; to the cuties and their families who are willing to share their child’s story – thank you all so very much!
View the entire gallery of pictures:
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