Fundraising fun and games

In final year, organizers pull out all stops for Soper Remembrance Tournament

Last coed softball event raises more than $6,000; Benchwarmers prove best in field
By Ken Waltz | Aug 10, 2018
Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul Tournament champions Knox County Benchwarmers.

Waldoboro — For five years, community members and businesses came together to do something special that would have made the late Robert "Bob" Soper proud and put a smile on his face — namely, people of all ages converged to play games of all kinds and enjoyed boatloads of fun at one of his favorite places: the ballfield.

Soper, a longtime athletic coach in the Waldoboro area, committed suicide in 2013 after battling mental illness.

Each year the event, spearheaded by Jessica Sproul and Natasha Wallace, raised money to donate to the Medomak Valley Little League and Maine Behavioral Health, Knox/Lincoln County Crisis Services.

Watch video, and see more photos, below.

The fifth annual Robert Soper Remembrance Tournament, a coed softball event, along with a variety of other child-friendly sporting games, were held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-5 on area fields.

Soper was a coach and volunteer for Little League for years.

"It was an organization near and dear to his heart and he gave so much to all the kids involved," Sproul said. "And as we all know, resources are thin in our area for crisis support so we wanted to help with that as well."

In the final year, the event raised more than $6,000 to split between Medomak Valley Little League in Waldoboro Maine and Maine Behavioral Health for Knox/Lincoln County Crisis Supports, organizers said.

"We are collecting the remaining donations, but at this time we have raised more than $6,000, which is very exciting and beyond anything we expected, or thought possible," Sproul said. "Our communities are amazing as they really stepped up to support our final year. We received over $2,500 in donations from local businesses through a business-donation challenge."

Sproul said she appreciated the dedicated volunteers who helped each year "as we could not pull this off without them."

Wallace said the tournament and other weekend competitions were fun and rewarding, but the event was for something more important than winning — namely, to promote the message that there is help for those who suffer mental illness.

"We want to help spread the message that everyone is touched by mental health be it depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.," said Wallace, a licensed social worker. "That #noonefightsalone and that together 'we' can change 'il'lness into wellness. Your battle with mental health does not define who you are as a person, it is a part of you, but not who you are, you are so much more."

Wallace said she and Sproul will meet with Medomak Valley Little League directors, as well as a representative from Maine Behavioral Health, to present them with checks as well as one of the framed t-shirts from this year to Maine Behavioral Health to display in its Portland office.

"This exchange is held at the Sukeforth Field in Waldoboro, where a commemorative plaque was placed in remembrance of my uncle Robert Soper," Wallace said.

From the softball tourney, Knox County Benchwarmers ran away with the title in two-day event. Benchwarmers play softball in the spring, summer and fall and annually challenge for titles in the Camden and Waldoboro adult leagues.

Tournament games were played at area fields

At noon Saturday, there was a break in games and there was a home run derby for adults and a children run-the-bases contest. Gift card prizes were awarded to the winners and businesses agreed to donate money per home run hit to increase the fundraising.

The championship game of the double-elimination tournament was played at noon Sunday.

Sproul said the softball tournament was a mixture of coed teams that play in various leagues, and teams that come together specifically for this event.

"This year we are really putting a focus on the mental health piece, which is reflected in the t-shirt design, [and had a] special area set up for people to honor and remember loved ones with mental illness," Sproul said.

There was a concessions stand, sell t-shirts, and this year will have a space for people to recogize/honor loved ones with mental illness.

Tournament and other information:

Home run derby winners: Male division - Jared Simmons hit seven out of 10. Female division - Beth Hamilton hit two out of 10.

The event had 64 total home runs and 29 contestants. Dick's Sporting Good cards were presented to the winners. Area businesses and families sponsored the derby by pledging money per home run hit. Between the donations and the $5 entry fee the event raised $1,755.00 from the home run derby.

Kids-run-the-bases winners: Ages 5 and younger - A.J. Simmons. Ages 6-8: Carter Jackson. Ages 9 and older - Arianna Sproul.

Each winner received a Walmart gift card.

Game scores: Inglorious Batters 12, Hammerheads 3; Timber Jacks won by forfeit; Hi Tek Rednecks 15, Wayne's World 3; Benchwarmers 30, Maine-ly Pawn 4; Inglorious Batters 27, Sons of Pitches 2; Hammerheads won by forfeit; Maine-ly Pawn 22, Sons of Pitches 4; Wayne's World 12, Hammerheads 11; Timber Jacks 2, Hi Tek Rednecks 1; Benchwarmers 11, Inglorious Batters 4; Hi Tek Rednecks 21, Maine-ly Pawn 4; Wayne's World 9, Inglorious Batters 8; Benchwarmers 10, Timber Jacks 5; Hi Tek Rednecks 9, Wayne's World 8; and Hi Tek Rednecks 2, Timber Jacks 1.

Championship game: Benchwarmers beat Hi Tek Rednecks 8-4 to finish undefeated and walk away with the championship.

Benchwarmers included Lee Smith, Becca Smith, Sara Cullity, Danny Favreau, Dylan Maloney, Jordan Carter, Tim Jackson, Chris Burns, Jessica Veilleux, Heath Smith, Jeremy Young, Betsy Wedge and Lenny Wedge

Hi Tek Rednecks included Glenn Barbour, Brittany Barbour, Jessica Barbour, Hayden Martz, Tim McFarland, Jamie Williams, Isaac Durkee, Aubrey Pennington, Tom Greenleaf, Stacey Eaton, Jason Blackler, Jeremi Green and Melissa Ambridge.

Timberjacks versus Hi Tek Rednecks
Timber Jacks versus Hi Tek Rednecks on Aug. 5. (Video by: Zack Miller)
Tournament runner-up Hi Tek Rednecks. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Arianna Sproul, ages 9-and-older run-the-bases winner. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sprou)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Scene from the championship game. (Courtesy of: Jessica Sproul)
Carter Jackson, ages 6-8 run-the-bases winner. (Courtesy of: Hillary Jackson)
Arianna Sproul, left, presents the championship plaque to Lilly Smith, daughter of Lee and Becca Smith of the Benchwarmers. (Courtesy of: Heidi Arsenault)
From the event Facebook page. (Courtesy of: Nastasha Wallace)
Tournament organizers Natasha Wallace, left, and Jessica Sproul. (Courtesy of: Heidi Arsenault)
A.J. Simmons, 5-and-younger run-the-bases winner. (Courtesy of: Elizabeth Simmons)
A plaque in memory of Robert "Bob" Soper at the Little League field. (Courtesy of: Natasha Wallace)
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