WOODWARD — Smiles, laughter, sweat, old stories and an abundance of fun combined to make the result of the first-ever “Alumni Game” at Phil Creese Field a rousing success.
The brainchild of Woodward-Granger senior-to-be Meagan Bandstra, the event brought together former players from W-G and five other high schools for an afternoon of fun, all aimed at raising funds for future improvements to the field.
Bandstra organized the event as part of her senior project at W-G and said she hopes the event will become an annual get-together, not just of ex-Hawks but also of former softballers from all over the area.
“We had some ladies today who did not go to school here and I hope that even more come out next year,” Bandstra said. “I know Riley (Jamison) is considering taking over and using this as her senior project next year. I am sure someone will, and we can just keep adding together the money we raised for when it is needed.”
A total of 23 women played in the game, with 2015 W-G grad Annie Webb’s Green team claiming a 10-7 five-inning win over W-G junior-to-be Riley Jamison’s Gold squad. The game was tied at a competitive 7-all when the Green team scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth. The ladies decided to play out the inning, with the Green gals adding two runs to the final tally.
W-G’s Alison Soelberg — who graduated this year — was the youngest player playing, with Tami Hartwig-Bartholomew from the W-G Class of 1982 taking honors at the other end of the spectrum.
The W-G Class of ’89 seized honors as “Most Represented” as six players from the class played. They were the first group of Hawks to play in the state tournament, finishing 10th and starting a run that has seen W-G appear 12 times on the big stage.
The day started at 2 p.m. with a meal of hot dogs, pulled pork, macaroni salad, baked beans and chips. Bottled water was donated to the event, and lemonade and cookies were also available. Players were divided into teams and began warming up at 3 p.m. with the game starting at 4 p.m.
The cost for each player was $30 and included the meal, game and a t-shirt. A free will collection was also taken at the concession stand and helped raise additional funds.
“I got out here at noon and did not really know what to expect,” Bandstra said. “People just started showing up and I had so much more help than I thought I would have. All the volunteers were so much help, and I cannot say how much I appreciated it.”
Almost universal among the players and volunteers was a desire to return again next summer, and to attract more players, perhaps enough to create several teams.
“Everything went better than I could have ever expected,” Bandstra said. “It all ran so smooth, and everyone had such a great time. I just could not be happier and want to say again a big thanks to everyone who played and who helped out.”
A list of the players involved, their school and class, follows. All are as provided.
Rachel Melton, W-G, ’97; Missy Peter-Lantz, W-G, ’01; Brande Milosevich, Saydel, ’93; Beth Gibson-Nixon, W-G, ’09; Lindsey Bice-Ocker, W-G, ’99; Jaimie Myers, W-G, ’10; Valerie Finestead, St. Croix, ’93; Beth Dagger, W-G, ’89; Stacey Newland-Thorpe, W-G, ’89; Kathey Laivz-Limoges, W-G, ’89; Brandie Smeltzer-Folkerts, W-G, ’96; Shannon Ramsey-Peterson, W-G, ’89; Jessica Gohn, Adair-Casey, year n/a; Stephanie Rose-Danti, DC-G, year n/a; Katie Seivert, W-G, ’09; Alison Soelberg, W-G, ’15; Stephanie Smith-Sloss, W-G, ’98; Reba Wilmes-Eustice, W-G, ’89; Rhonda Weber-Eustice, W-G, ’89; Tracy Tague, CR-B, ’97; Ashlee Bolton-Swinton, W-G, ’03; Tami Hartwig-Bartholomew, W-G, ’82; Brandy Eich-Belgarde, W-G, ’98; Annie Webb (Green coach), W-G, ’15; Riley Jamison, W-G (Gold coach), ’17; Meagan Bandstra (organizer), W-G, ’16.