This past weekend, hundreds of Brusly High alumni flocked to the fields at Myhand Park in Addis for a weekend of reunion, spirited competition and most importantly, to raise money for the BHS athletic department.
The annual softball tournament, now in its sixth year, was the brainchild of current BHS Athletic Director Tait Dupont, who began the same fundraiser at St. John during his coaching tenure there 12 years ago.
Over the past six years between 23-29 teams participate in the softball tournament each year. Classes from the 1970s to the previous year’s graduating class (Class of 2013 for this year) create teams made of their respective class alumni, each player paying a $15 registration fee.
A tournament homerun derby also raises money, as the BHS “homerun kings” of the past battle to show if they still have what it takes to “go yard.”
In addition to the player fees and homerun derby, money is raised in the concession stand, in which the current BHS sports teams take turns running.
“It is great to have the kids in there working the concession stand because they get to see how the money comes back to them,” Brusly High Principal Walt Lemoine said.
Dupont said the tournament raises between $15,000 to $20,000 each year, and all of the money raised is split between each BHS sports team.
Lemoine said that while raising money for the athletic department is important, it isn’t the only reason they have this tournament each year.
“Yes, we make money – there’s no doubt about that – but what comes out of it is immeasurable,” Lemoine said.
He said that alumni come from near and far to play in the tournament each year to enjoy the camaraderie, fellowship, and fun.
“They come because they know it is for a good cause knowing it is going back to the school,” Lemoine said. “The young and old come together – they practice together – they play together, and at the end of the day, they have fun. This doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Lemoine said there are so many aspects of the tournament that he looks forward to each year, but he especially enjoys when former students whom he may have had to deal with for disciplinary reasons come up to him and say, “Hey Coach, remember that time … ?”
“It is fun to remember those old war stories,” he said.
Lemoine said that he also enjoys seeing the former students who may not have played sports back in high school come back and play and be a part of a group.
Mark Drago, a member of the class of 1987, who has played in all but one of the BHS tournaments said, “It is a great opportunity to get together with old classmates and schoolmates in the classes above and below you and enjoy some in-person camaraderie.
“Sure, you can keep up with most folks through social media,” Drago said. “But that time together is when you can really relive some of the old stories and enjoy the antics that make up the crazy personalities that you remember from school days.”
This year, teams were broken up into three different brackets based upon class years that participated: “Modern Era,” classes of 2006-2013; “Almost Ancient,” classes 1993-2004; and “Ancient Athlete,” classes 1970s-1992.”
This year, the classes of 1990, 2001, and 2007 took home championships of their respective divisions.
Last year, Dupont began an additional alumni tournament between St. John and BHS, where money raised is split between the two athletic departments. This year’s tournament will be the weekend of August 8.
“It is great to see people hanging out having a good time,” Dupont said. “That’s what it’s all about.”