The Sabaskong Cubs are set to host the second-annual Rick Copenace Memorial men’s fastball tournament this weekend.
The tournament is scheduled for June 18-20 at the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation diamond and Bass Lake Park field in Nestor Falls.
Action is slated to kick off at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Copenace, a pitcher for the Cubs, died of coronary arteritis—an inflammation of the arteries—following a Rainy River District Fastball League game back in May, 2008.
“We’re honouring our fallen teammate,” said Cubs’ manager Frank Shebagegit.
“He was a very young man that left us too early.”
Shebagegit also hopes holding the tournament in Copenace’s memory will bring some peace to his family and friends.
“It’s all to put a little bit of ease on losing a loved one,” he explained.
“It helps everybody to go on.”
Shebagegit said the inaugural tournament was a success, with nine teams competing.
“We had a very good-sized crowd,” he recalled. “Everybody said they’re coming back this year.”
The tournament had expanded to 12 teams this year. It will comprise mainly of RRDFL squads, along with three out-of-district teams.
Shebagegit said losing Copenace took a toll on the Cubs emotionally—and it showed on the field as the club struggled.
However, Sabaskong has bounced back this season, sitting atop the RRDFL with a 7-1 record, just ahead of the Barwick Blue Knights (8-2).
“It was very hard,” acknowledged Shebagegit. “It’s shown the past few years on our record.
“It hasn’t been good.
“We finally got our other pitchers back to the game—Don ‘Kimbi’ Copenace and Sheldon [Kelly],” Shebagegit added. “They’ve been stepping ahead and taking over in his place.”