The team Beef Stew with trophy celebrates its victory in the 2nd annual Brad Reece Memorial Softball tournament. Photos by Joey Icenhour
Thirty-four teams signed up to play in the second annual Brad Reece Memorial Softball tournaments.
By Beth Cox
The community came together for a good cause over the weekend at Ralph Stout Park to remember a great man and play a little softball.
The second annual Brad Reece Memorial Softball tournament began on Friday afternoon and went well into the evening on Saturday, May 14.
Thirty-four teams signed up to play, and the spectators followed. The park was so packed it was hard to find a parking space.
Interestingly, the weather forecast called for rain for both Friday and Saturday, but possibly with help from above, a few blessings covered the fields and held the rain off until the very last game. The championship game put two Reece boys (Gabe and Graham) against each other for the coveted first-place trophy, but it was Graham’s team, “Beef Stew Crew,” that went home as the 2022 champions.
As the games ended, Brad’s wife Tina reflected on the weekend’s events with expressions of love for her community.
“The support from our sweet community is a kind of love you can’t find anywhere else, and this weekend really showed that love,” she said. “Brad and I knew Johnson County was the only place we wanted to raise our family.”
Reece was diagnosed with brain cancer toward the end of 2019. He held tightly to his faith until his last day on Earth as he fought fast-growing cancer. Reece had an eternal love for his wife and boys, not to mention his love for his community, and they all loved him right back. Reece was a little league coach for all three of his sons, Gabe, Gavin, and Graham.
Many of the teams that signed up to play at the tournament were former players of Reece. Stephen Osborne remembers the beloved coach when Osborne moved to Mountain City.
“Brad was my first coach in Johnson County,” he said. “I remember he asked me if I was playing on his team. I told him I was, and he said, ‘well, if you play on my team, you got to cut your hair to see the ball,’ so I cut my hair.”
Osborne added, “He taught me so much more than baseball. He taught me to always show respect on and off the field, whether you are on top of your game or not, always be respectful,”.
As the tournament continued throughout the day, the Reece family paused the softball play to take a moment to honor a man of great courage and dedication.
Brad’s father, Tom Reece, addressed the crowd before the balloons were released by Tina, Gabe, Gavin, Graham, and Brad’s mom Belinda and sister Stacey. Tom said Brad told him shortly before he passed away that his wish was to not be forgotten.
A family still heartbroken yet positive about the mission of honoring the legacy of greatness with the Brad Reece Memorial Scholarship; Brad Reece will never be forgotten. Even in death and through the family’s dedication, Reece continues to be a beacon of light for his family and community and an advocate of cancer awareness. The community has shown its support of the mission of brain cancer awareness with the slogan, “Go Gray in May,” by wearing their gray shirts and showing up at the park to play and watch.