If you knew Carli Jo Leblanc, you knew there were three things most important to her: family, friends, and softball.
This past weekend, Leblanc’s family and friends gathered at Myhand Park in Addis to celebrate her love of family, friends, and softball with the 1st Annual Carli Jo Leblanc Memorial Scholarship Tournament.
“She had begun to work with younger pitchers in the community and trying to help out future BHS (Brusly High School) players (before her death),” Carli Jo’s stepmother Kim Leblanc said. “So we simply wanted to help continue what she was trying to do. This tournament means that we will be able to fund future scholarships to Brusly High graduates in honor of her.”
Carli Jo and her mother, former West Baton Rouge Sheriff deputy Cpl. Donna Leblanc, were killed in September 2016. Carli Jo’s number 25 jersey was retired at Brusly high in April 2017.
She was a four-year standout who led the Panthers to the Class 3A state title in 2013. LeBlanc was 26-1 with a 0.95 earned run average and 237 strikeouts and was the Class 3A and All-Metro 3A and below MVP, according to The Advocate.
Jo´s father Kerry, along with his wife Kim, set up a scholarship at Brusly High School in her memory last year, and awarded two 2018 graduates, Kyana Thymes and Cameron Daigle, with the inaugural scholarship.
“Considering the weather forecast was not promising, no games were delayed and we stayed on schedule,” Kim Leblanc said. “We had 16 coed teams participate with lots of good feedback on what went well and not so well. We’ve spent our entire lives at the ballpark whether playing, or supporting our kids, but running a tournament like this is a learning experience. We sincerely hope the teams want to come back next year and maybe even gain a few more.¨
Brusly High assistant principal and assistant softball coach Julie Mayeux said she was overwhelmed by the support the Leblancs received at the tournament.
“It was emotional for so many of us because of the support and our love for Jo,” she said. “Words cannot express the appreciation that we all have for the tremendous outpouring of support for Jo’s tourney this weekend — the teams, the volunteers, the fans. I am so grateful to have been able to watch these young adults play for such a great cause to award two students with scholarships to pursue their education.
“It will give two students the chance that Jo had tragically taken away from her,” she continued. “It was a great atmosphere. Jo was smiling down, and I know would be proud. I met so many giving people who all share a common connection — we loved Jo.”
Mayeux said she received a text after the tournament from Garrett Roberts, who participated in the event with some of his 2018 alumni friends.
“Had a great time this weekend! I loved the atmosphere of everyone having a good time supporting a good cause!” Roberts said.
Kim Leblanc said that they are still working on the final amount raised in the tournament, but it’s definitely looking as if it was a great success and exceeded their expectations.
“We are hoping that this tournament in the future will fund the scholarships without any further donations from the community,” Leblanc said. “We would like to thank the entire community for the love and support throughout the past two years since Carli’s death. We would also like to thank all individuals and businesses that donated money and/or supplies since establishing this scholarship. Special thanks to Brusly High School for continuing to support our family and allowing us the opportunity to help her name and accomplishments not be forgotten.” Scroll down for more pictures of the event.