Inscribed on the trophy for the Travis Waite Memorial Slopitch Tournament are the words “If you asked me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud!”
The weekend and the tournament was nothing if not loud in memory of Waite, the young man who lost his life last year in a tragic incident.
The tournament was spearheaded by his cousin, Tara Waite-Myers, and was designed to be an outlet for family members and friends to remember Travis in a positive way. Another major focus of the weekend was an opportunity to raise money for the Travis Waite Memorial Foundation that was started to help underprivileged kids get involved in sport.
“We started the foundation last year after Travis passed away. People in Fort St. John kind of knew everything that had gone on with (his) passing and I wanted his name to represent something other than that,” Waite-Myers explained June 4 at the tournament.
“Travis had spent time coaching sports in Fort St. John, mostly soccer, and he’d come out to ball tournaments and our family is into ball tournaments… We sponsor kids (now) we can’t play organized sports. Our family has always been big on (sports).”
Ten teams lined up for the first-ever memorial event at Charlie Lake, which is also special as Waite-Myers’ family grew up on those diamonds. The diamonds had recently fallen into a disrepair, and the family decided to rejuvenate them for the tournament.
“Our family is quite large and everyone of them jumped in, wholeheartedly, two feet in,” she said. “My grandparents played ball out here, my aunts and uncles played ball out here…So to fix up the diamonds was even a bit nostalgic. The whole thing around it is nostalgic, I’ve had a lot of people come to me and thank me for fixing the diamonds.”
And in that same spirit of creating a lasting legacy, all winnings for the tournament, including the 50/50 were donated back to the foundation, which Waite-Myers anticipates to be about $4,000.
“This is Fort St. John. This is my town, the people that pull through in this town and come out and they know it’s for a good cause and they know it’s staying in their community and they want to be a part of it. My heart is kind of like the Grinch, it just grew two sizes that day,” she said.
The McGolvins were the top team, with the Travengers finishing second, and the Team T-Dubs finishing third.
Waite-Myers hopes she can make the tournament an annual event after the weekend’s success. Teams had to be turned away this year because of the chaotic schedule with only two diamonds available at Charlie Lake.
In the end, the weekend served as the lift that Travis himself embodied, something that has inspired Waite-Myers ever since his passing.
“Around the memorial of his passing, I didn’t want my family to spend those days sad. Travis was one of those guys, he lived life to the fullest,” she said.
“He captured every moment that he possibly could. I wanted to spend this weekend celebrating him. In turn, raise some money to put back into the foundation that represented his name, what he stood for and what we wanted to do to remember him.”