John Habib's City Sports: Tourney time nears for JVs, too
Eighteen years ago, Trinity High baseball coach Eddie Poisson and one of his players — standout pitcher John Velosky, who would go on to start at Dartmouth College — came up with the idea of a junior varsity tournament.
"John and I talked extensively about giving JV players a taste of what tournament baseball was all about," said Poisson. "The Memorial Day weekend was the best time to run it because the JV regular season was over and it was just before the start of the varsity tournament. I've enjoyed every year, and it makes me happy to know the JV kids benefit from it."
The 18th annual Trinity High Junior Varsity Baseball Tournament will begin next Saturday at Al Lemire Field in Derryfield Park. The eight-team tournament will feature defending champion Goffstown, Manchester Memorial, Manchester Central, Pinkerton Academy of Derry, Merrimack, Salem, Concord and host Trinity.
Poisson said the tournament wouldn't have lasted even three years had it not been for countless volunteers behind the scenes.
"I couldn't do this by myself," the veteran coach said. "To run this tournament, you need to do a lot of things, like getting the teams, preparing the field and having people in place to run the concession stand. It's a lot of work."
In need of umpires, Poisson received help from Tom Fischer and the New Hampshire Baseball Umpires Association.
"This tournament doesn't raise much money, and the money we do raise goes right back into the tournament," Poisson said. "We knew we could never afford to pay the umpires, but Tom approached us and offered to help at no cost. He runs an apprentice program and uses our tournament as a field test for his first-year umpires, who are evaluated behind the plate and on the bases. I owe a lot to Tom and Jim Walsh because they've been with us for almost 20 years. It's been a great relationship."
Game times for next Saturday and Sunday are 9:30 a.m., noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m.
On Monday, May 27, at 10 a.m. the top two teams will compete for the title.
"It's very good baseball, and it's fun to watch the kids who are going to make an impact on the varsity level over the next two years," said Poisson.
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CENTRAL boys' soccer coach Chris LaBerge is always preaching to his players about staying focused in the classroom.
"I'm always telling my kids about how important school is and why good grades lead to an opportunity to attend a college or university," said Laberge. "Now I want to back my words up by helping them off to college."
To that end, LaBerge has organized the first Little Green boys' soccer scholarship fundraiser, which takes place today at Next Level Performance on 31 South Commercial St., just down the road from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The event will run from 4:30-9 p.m.
The goal is to raise money for scholarships to the graduating senior players from Central who will be attending college this fall.
LaBerge and his three brothers — Rich, Scott and Matt — all played soccer for Central. Chris' son Keegan, a 2012 Division I first-team selection as a junior, plays for the Little Green, who have won three of the last four state titles, including the last two.
"It might not be much, but I want to raise enough money to help the kids pay for something like books pertaining to their college education," Chris LaBerge said of the fundraiser.
Laberge said former players from Memorial, West and Trinity will be in attendance today helping the cause. He also contacted former Little Green coaches Jim Stevenson, Bob Veilleux, Jim Baroody, Jim Shaughnessy, Bob Martel and Ray Juneau, all of whom plan to attend.
"We're going to raffle off Red Sox and Bruins items including signed balls and Red Sox tickets," said Laberge. "We're also going to have a cookout and a bean bag toss tournament. We're reaching out to the public to attend a fun-filled event and to donate whatever they can to a good cause for kids."
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HARD TO BELIEVE a year has passed since the untimely death of Dan Duval.
The memory of the late athlete, coach, speaker and mentor continues to live on through charitable events such as the second annual Dan Duval Memorial Golf Tournament, set for Friday, June 28, at the Derryfield Country Club in Manchester.
Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Dan Duval Charitable Fund. The organizer of the event is Dan's brother, Jeff, who has continued the cause his older brother believed in.
"Danny was a tireless advocate for at-risk kids, as well as adults, with drug or alcohol dependencies," said Jeff. "The mission of the fund is to provide yearly scholarships to at least one student from the five high schools in Manchester. The long-term mission is to provide some financial relief for anyone who may need help with their addiction."
The tournament uses a scramble format, and the registration fee covers a meal, live auction and prizes. To enter, contact Duval at 494-0152 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made by check payable to the Dan Duval Charitable Fund and mailed to 45 Gerard Drive, Manchester 03104.
"City Sports" is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.