October 03, 2013 | Posted by Catherine Hogue
The tight-knit central Pennsylvania racing community is once again coming together to participate in the second Williams Grove National Open Kick-It Tournament, benefiting the Kick-It Foundation. The kickball tournament, a sort of kickoff to the big National Open racing weekend, will take place Friday at the Upper Allen Township Community Park, located about 3 miles north of Williams Grove Speedway.
A goal of $20,000 has been set, with the donations going to Kick-It, a national organization partnered with the Cleveland Indians and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. It is devoted to raising money for pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research across the country. It was founded by a 10-year-old cancer patient who imagined the possibility of curing cancer by playing kickball.
Williams Grove's elimination-style tournament will start with 16 teams, each comprised of no more than 15 players. Team names include Beer Hill Gang, Wingless Warriors, Tweet Nation, and Karate Kicking Kangaroo. There will be four rounds of the five-inning games. The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) rulebook will be used to monitor the tournament.
Hanover's Jason Bly started the event last year after learning about it through Twitter and is once again acting as the coordinator.
"Last year's event went far and beyond our initial expectations," Bly said. "With the help of the entire racing community -- including karting, sprint car, late model, super sportsman drivers, along with local and World of Outlaw series officials, local media members, racing fans, and many sponsors -- we were able to raise over $17,000. We had an estimated 170-plus players, volunteers and attendees. It was an extremely well-received event."
Spectators are encouraged to come and support not only the teams but the cause as well. Donations can be made at the event with either cash or check, or online at www.kick-it.org/donate/event/2nd-annual-williams-grove-national. There will also be a raffle with prizes donated from racing teams and organizations. All of the proceeds benefit the charity.
Hanover's Tim Wagaman II is participating in the event for the second year in a row. A 358 sprint car driver of the No. 1 car, Wagaman jumped at the chance to play for a team again this year at the tournament.
"I like to try to do as much community outreach that I can," he said. "I think for me, the best causes involve children, so those are the ones that interest me."
The kickball tournament marks the start of the National Open weekend, one of the biggest weekends for sprint car racing on the East Coast. The World of Outlaws, the traveling sprint car series often described as the "best of the best," will stop at Williams Grove for a $50,000-to-win race Saturday night, in addition to the regular show slated for Friday night.
"I think it's a very good way to start the weekend and get everyone in that competitive mode," Wagaman said. "It also gives everyone a chance to get acquainted with people that love racing and giving back all in one. It's a blast. I would love to see everyone in the community get involved in one way or another by either competing or donating to this great cause."
Hanover's Bill McIntyre is the head coach of the 358 Drivers team. McIntyre has worked forPaPosseRacing.com for the past eight years, which is how he discovered the event. He said he loves getting together with drivers, car owners and fans to play a sport most haven't played since childhood.
McIntyre has high hopes that his team will make it to the finals this year.
"Team 358 has the 358 Series Champion Austin Hogue, the 2013 Rookie Of The Year in the 358 division Chase Dietz, and former New Oxford High School starting QB Shane Hoff, and a few of us old farts on the team," he said. "And we are hoping that this year we can make it to the finals and show the big bad NSCBBA (National Sprint Car Bean Bag Association) guys that us 358 guys are a mean bunch of racers as well. All in good fun though."
All involved hope that the community will come out to support not only the local racing but the cause as well. Almost $14,000 was raised by Wednesday, and organizers hope that total will increase on the day of the event. Games begin at 12:15 p.m. Friday.
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