Remembering a brother through ball

People celebrate the memory of loved ones in many ways.

For Vern Isberg, a softball tournament named after his brother Arnie seemed like the way to go, and his instincts were right.

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Last year the 1st Annual Arnie Isberg Memorial Softball Tournament was a huge success, raising over $6,000 for the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.

This year, Isberg hopes the tournament is an even bigger triumph this coming weekend, and so far all signs point to that happening.

"Last year we raised just under $6,300 and this year we've already almost topped that with initial sponsorship," Isberg said from Grande Prairie on Wednesday. "So far to date I think we've raised $5,800 and we haven't started the tournament yet. We're going to beat [last year], and we set a goal last year for $3,000. We doubled that. This year we've set a goal for $10,000 and I think we'll end up pretty close to that."

"It's a pretty big accomplishment for a second-year tournament."

Fifteen teams have signed up so far for the memorial tourney, one coming from as far as Fort Nelson.

"There are a bunch of players coming from out of town on different teams," Isberg said. "We also have a special team this year, the Edge, an all-girls team. They're a tournament team that travels around the area and goes to all the elite girls' tournaments, so it'll be pretty exciting to watch those girls."

The tournament will run over three days, June 21-23, at the Surerus Ball Diamonds. Some teams will camp out in the parking lot, others will carpool but all of them will have a good time, Isberg says.

"I think the uniqueness of the tournament [is an attraction]. We've had people comment on the games and the different team-building events like the fastest or most-creatively-dressed team," he explained. "Some teams asked us if we're doing those again. One team is thinking about doing the 80s, another in full neon and it'll be a fantastic team-building thing for them."

"It brings everyone together. It's a fun tournament with good baseball and I'm looking forward to it."

The weather for the weekend is also supposed to be great, which is a huge change from the past three weekends in Fort St. John. Isberg said the forecast is "my brother looking down on us."

With hot weather, lots of sponsorships and excited softball players, Isberg knows this weekend is going to be a great one to "Strike Out Cancer," the tournament's motto. He also added how none of it would be possible without the help of some big-hearted people.

"Nick and CJ Boser were instrumental in doing fundraising this year for this tournament," Isberg said. "They were my contact in Fort St. John and without them we wouldn't be anywhere near the fundraising efforts we have right now, so a big shout out for them."

"I'm looking forward to the camaraderie, the people in the community and mostly a sunny weekend of good friends and ball and everyone out for a good cause."

The 2nd Annual Arnie Isberg Memorial Softball Tournament kicks off Friday, June 21 at the Surerus Ball Diamonds.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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