by TJ Jorgensen
After 17 years of competitive tournament softball, the Street Kids Softball team will end its historic run.
I could spend the next several hours writing about the history of this team... from the start of the league team in 1978 with founders Mike Fahey, KC Pocius and Xave Creary to the day we first entered tournament ball in 2000. From the first time we wore pink shirts for breast cancer awareness to the day we were crowned GSL World Series champions. From watching 15-year SKS veteran infielder Tony Hardiman taking his first swing as a Street Kid to watching him play in his final SKS tournament in Orlando a few weeks ago. Instead, I will just keep it simple.I say historic run because very few teams have remained together this long. When we started playing tournament ball in 2000 we started in festivals, playing in Coloma, Michigan a lot. But it was not until 2002 that we entered sanctioned events with NSA, as a Class E team. Over the years we added better players, improved StreetKidsSoftball.com, started our outreach program Street Kids Care in 2006, changed the lives of many people in the process, won a GSL and a CSA world title and made a ton of friends. The organization started in 1978 when KC Pocius and Mike Fahey got together to start a league team. A year later Xavier Creary joined the team and through 2016, Creary still ran a Street Kids league team and played almost every game even at age 70. Since I posted the news on Facebook Sunday morning, I have received over a dozen calls, texts, emails, etc asking why... Its not because of the team itselt. The roster from 2016 was probably the best we have ever had - including the 2011 season when we reached the championship game in 18 out of 19 tournaments. And it was not leadership, as I could not think of a better coach to run this team than Mike Bailey who did an incredible job taking over last year. It came down to money. It takes a lot of money to run a competitive team, and with no association other than USSSA having a strong upper program, we have to travel. I am not in a position to put money into the team anymore and without sponsors, we do not have a team. Its unfair for Bailey and I to ask players to wait while we try to gain financial support when they could sign with other teams. Do I believe we have a good team to compete in 2017? Yes. But that is not what this decision is about. I will miss this team. I will miss reporting all the times we won, and I will the chance to win more. When I retired from competitive play in 2014, I thought I would miss the game. But that was not it at all. The game will go on without me, it will go on without Street Kids, but its the players that I miss. Its the weekends away with the guys, the restaurants, the comraderie we built over the years. The closeness that we all had. That is what I miss. Going forward, Xave Creary will still have a Street Kids league team - made up of mostly young guys he pulls from his Notre Dame Rec team, and a few other longtime league guys. I will probably continue to play once a week with Creary as I have since 1996. The biggest thing will be Street Kids Care. We created this outreach program as a way to help others and even when guys leave SKS, they still want to take part in SK Care events. And that means we made an impact with others. Street Kids Care will still carry on, and we hope to continue to help people and change lives, and most importantly, influence others to want to make a difference. So.. with that said.. I want to say thank you to all the players, coaches, sponsors, wives, families and friends that have played a part in Street Kids over the past 17 years on the weekends. We had a good run and made some memories.
Filmed during winter practices in 2009, featured are current and former SKS players talking about what SK Care means to them. Featured players are: JR Shapiro, Nick Bishop, Tony Hardiman, Joe Hovath, Scott Martin, Mark Hershberger, Teddy Panagakos, Dan Garey, TJ Jorgensen, Jay Jeffery and Kalei Enterline.