Gill St. Bernard’s Varsity Softball participated in the first annual non-public school charity tournament on Saturday, April 8, 2023, and together with the six other participating teams, raised over $9000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
The idea for the charity tournament arose out of a conversation between Coach Chip Carver of Pingry, Coach Gary Bury of Immaculata, and GSB Head Softball Coach Mike Surella during a planning session last year. Coach Surella expressed interest in creating an early season tournament to expose athletes to competition at the start of their season while also raising money and awareness for a worthy cause. Coach Carver and Coach Bury were immediately on board with the idea, and the three coaches began sketching out the parameters.
The trio chose the AFSP because of concern over the impact Covid has had on mental health and the subsequent rise in suicides, particularly among teens and adolescents. In the end, seven schools joined in the fundraiser including GSB, Immaculata, Jonathon Dayton, Kent Place, Oak Knoll, Pingry, and Union. Pingry hosted the event on their campus; Pope John was scheduled but did not attend.
“The Tournament was fantastic,” Coach Surella said “It was a great day of softball on beautiful facilities with fantastic food and lots of laughs. Our hope was to raise awareness about the foundation’s work and to let people know they are not alone. I believe we succeeded.”
Between the t-shirt sales, 50/50 raffles, food trucks, and other vendors, the Tournament raised over $9000 toward suicide prevention, and based upon the success, the organizers hope to repeat the format next year.
“We are already planning on another event next year,” Coach Surella shared. “Our hope is to support a different cause each year and to create a lasting, positive impact on our community.”
Thank you to everyone who competed and who came out to support the event!