34th Softball Tournament Raises $25,000 for Charity, Brings Victory for Men's Team
Softball teams from 51 law schools journeyed to Charlottesville to compete in the 34th annual North Grounds Softball League Invitational this weekend, an event that raised $25,000 for charity.
The invitational raised $20,000 for ReadyKids, a local organization that provides early childhood learning programs, family counseling and other services for disadvantaged children. The league will donate an additional $5,000 from the tournament to UVA Law's Public Interest Law Association, to fund summer public service jobs for students.
The competition was divided between regular and co-rec divisions. After initial round-robin play, the teams with the best records competed in NCAA-style brackets to determine the two champions of the tournament.
In the regular division, UVA Men's Blue edged out UVA Men's Gold in the final. UVA Co-Rec Blue advanced to the final game in the co-rec bracket, but was defeated by Florida Coastal School of Law's team.
"It was pure elation — not just to win the tournament, but to do so with this particular group of guys," said Rick Eberstadt '17, who co-captained the Men's Blue along with AJ Swartwood '17. Eberstadt and Swartwood credited their team's success to the "chemistry and camaraderie" built up over months of practice.
"That final out and the immediate resultant jubilation will always be one of our favorite memories from our time at UVA Law," said Eberstadt.
The tournament featured 101 teams in total from law schools across the Eastern United States, stretching from Florida State University to the University of Maine.
"The invitational was a huge success," said Daniel Friel '17, the commissioner of the North Grounds Softball League. "Given how many parts are moving at the same time, you'd think that there would be some hiccups along the way, but everything ran incredibly smoothly." Friel thanked the tournament directors, Christina Katsampes '17 and Eli Schooley '17, as well as the head field monitors, Dascher Pasco '18 and Laura Gregory '18, for contributing to a successful event.
Opening night of the tournament featured blustery winds and temperatures in the low 30s, but that didn't dissuade the competitors. "We ended up bringing the Keurig from home, picked up some k-cups and sold coffee out of the concession stand," Friel said. The next day warmed to a more softball-friendly temperature, and the fair weather held for the rest of the tournament.
The tournament brought together Law School alumni who had participated in the North Grounds Softball League, now celebrating its 40th season, for an alumni game. The participating alumni included the first two commissioners of the League, Fred Vogel '77 and Dave Mullins '78.
Professor J. Gordon Hylton '77, who co-founded the North Grounds Softball League and acted as co-commissioner during its inaugural season, said that events like the invitational contributed to the Law School's unique collegiality. "The social world at the Law School draws people. It's part of the reputation that differentiates it from comparative schools," he said.
"Softball has become a big part of the culture" at the Law School, Hylton said. For example, he added, "My research assistant is on three teams."
The UVA Co-Rec Blue team
The UVA Co-Rec Gold team
The Co-Rec Tight n' Bright team
NGSL Commissioner Daniel Friel '17 and Dean Risa Goluboff
Members of the Co-Rec America team