MONTVILLE, NJ - All the ball parks of Montville Township became the many sites for the annual Michelle Sullivan Fund Softball Tournament from May 3 to 5. On the first day, an opening grand ceremony was held at the Montville Municipal Fields. Close to 2,000 people attended the entire tournament.

"We're very excited and honored to have this going on," said Seth Friedman, Montville resident who has been co-director of the tournament for two years. "This event over the weekend is meaningful to our town. Whatever we can do to keep Michelle's memory in mind is all we can hope for."

The softball tournament is considered one of the largest events in Northern New Jersey, consisting this year of 55 teams participating at levels of 8U, two divisions of 10U, two divisions of 12U, and two divisions of 14U, and 14U club. This year, twelve ball fields all over the township were utilized, with as many as 660 girls scheduled to play about 120 games over the whole weekend.

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The Michelle Sullivan Fund was first organized in 1993 with the purpose of raising money and help promote girls athletic organizations in Montville. This fund was created following the death of 12-year-old Michelle Sullivan, who was killed by a motorcyclist. She had played softball since third grade.

“Michelle was caring, woke up with a smile, and loved her family, cousins and grandparents,” said Theresa Sullivan, mother of Michelle, who is the founder of the organization, and an advisor for the tournament. "Michelle was also a good student who always found the positive in people."

During the ceremony, 14-year-old Montville resident Abby Seewald sang the National Anthem, while the first pitch of the tournament was thrown by Theresa Sullivan's granddaughters Freya (5) and Maeve Dykema (4). Also, high schooler and softball player Jaclyn Monaco was selected as this year's recipient of the Michelle Sullivan Fund Scholarship Award.

Over the weekend, rainy weather caused some problems for the softball tournament, and thus cancelled games for the 8U division that were scheduled for Sunday. Therefore, this year’s trophy recipients are as follows:

10U Travel:

1st Place Gold – Montville Lady Mustangs

1st Place Silver – Rockaway Rampage

2nd Place Gold – Mount Olive Marauders

2nd Place Silver – MSO Villagers – Red

12U Travel:

1st Place Gold – Glen Ridge Renegades

1st Place Silver – Mount Olive Marauders

2nd Place Gold – Roxbury Rebels

2nd Place Silver – Randolph Rage - Blue

14U Travel:

1st Place Gold – Sparta Diamonds

1st Place Silver – Montville Lady Mustangs

2nd Place Gold – Roxbury Rebels

2nd Place Silver – High Point Heat

14U Club:

1st Place – Jersey Impact

2nd Place – Lady Ravens

By the end of the weekend, with players tired, attendees full from the snack stands, throats dry from all of the cheering, and the organizers exhausted from tallying up all the paperwork, the 21st Annual Michelle Sullivan Fund Softball Tournament was indeed a success. And Sullivan had many people in mind to thank for this.

“We are very blessed to have so many people who have worked so hard on putting this tournament together year after year, and so lucky to call them our friends," said Sullivan.

"There’s John Hill, whose daughters moved on to high school and beyond, who stayed with the committee for a few years after to help. Then there’s John Haugh, who was active for a number of years as a coach and part of the committee even after his daughters moved on. In fact, he still is a referee for the Dad’s Basketball Game between Woodmont and Hilldale Elementary Schools’ fundraiser. Tim Holmes who didn’t have any daughters involved for years still actively participated with the tournament and Scott Van Koppen who was the president of the [Montville Baseball Softball Association.]

“Then there’s Kathy and Skip Breslow, owners of Class Act Embroidery who are the most caring, giving family that we call great friends. Their daughter Danielle Mariano was a teammate and friend of our Michelle. Their son Jarred, who is the talent designer of the logos year after year, spent hours preparing for the tournament.

“Another person I’d like to recognize who has been a big supporter is Tim Braden, when his daughters played and again, like John Hill and John Haugh, he stayed involved. They all worked hard organizing the tournament also making sure the fields were playable along with the help from Jimmy Dodgson. I’m sure there are so many others who have worked so hard that I don’t know about. All and all, the whole Montville Baseball & Softball Association have been great over the past 21 years.

“We are grateful for all the long hours that all the volunteers put in to make this a successful tournament and to be able to give back to the community in memory of our daughter Michelle. She had a love of life and enjoyed being a part of a team, and no she was not that athletic, but she was the best supporter to her teammates.”

Sullivan later received a memory bead box on behalf of all the softball teams for her dedication to the Michelle Sullivan Fund.

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