Playing in the snow, mud for a cause
Though the sunshine helped take off the chill Saturday, teams participating in the inaugural “Balls & Badges Softball Tournament” still contended with the challenges unique to playing softball in the dead of winter.
As the players slipped and slid around the snow-covered diamonds at Wolf Pack Park in Lower Burrell, some faced a home plate surrounded by mud, others one with hard-packed icy snow.
No one seemed to mind, though, because the sloppy fun was all in the name of raising money for the Derek Kotecki Scholarship Fund.
“We love softball regardless of what time of year it is,” said Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Gay, as he waited to take his turn on the field. “And it's in the name of one of our fallen heroes; we wanted to come out and support that.”
About 100 players on eight teams participated in the tournament, which continues at Wolf Pack today.
The event raised about $1,500 for the scholarship fund named in honor of Lower Burrell Patrolman Derek Kotecki, who was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 12, 2011. The scholarship fund gives back to the communities that rallied together in the wake of Kotecki's death, said Audra Flemm, a leader of the committee that tracks the fundraisers held in the officer's name.
The fund offers six scholarships, ranging from $500 to $1,000, to three students at Burrell High School and three at Valley High. The scholarships benefit girls and boys basketball players and students who want to pursue a career in emergency services.
“We're hoping to add Kiski (High School) because that was one of the communities that helped out Lower Burrell,” Flemm said. “We want to take care of the communities that really helped out when it happened.”
Lower Burrell Patrolman Steve Cernava, who was on duty Saturday and couldn't play on the city police's softball team, said events like the tournament keep Kotecki's memory alive.
“It just reminds people about Derek and how much he's missed,” Cernava said. “It gives us a feeling that people haven't forgotten and support the Lower Burrell Police Department.”
Kotecki's parents, wife and two children attended the tournament's opening event around 8 a.m. Saturday.
Teams in the tournament included the Upper Burrell Volunteer Fire Department, University of Pittsburgh Police, Pittsburgh Police, Joe's Place, Freedom Inn and two pick-up teams that had a mix of local residents and emergency services personnel.
“Most of us are from Lower Burrell, so it's always good to give back to the community,” said Andrew Twidwell, of Lower Burrell, a member of the Upper Burrell VFD team.
Flemm said they're hoping to continue to hold fundraisers to sustain the scholarship fund, noting that the next benefits are a golf tournament and the “Bands in Blue” concert, both scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Hillcrest Country Club.
“We don't want it to be just a one- or two-year thing,” Flemm said.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Police investigate reports bus driver allowed Fox Chapel students to change clothes
- Christmas parade gets warm welcome in Saxonburg
- Retirements help trim Arnold budget
- Apollo-Ridge closer to naming buildings, facilities
- New Kensington-Arnold School Board reviews facilities use policy
- Deer Lakes School Board gives $10,000 raise to new Superintendent Logue-Belden
- South Butler students push composting as a way to slow food waste
- Indiana Township bridge over the Pa. Turnpike to reopen Wednesday
- Armstrong ranks 4th in nation among most-armed counties