Tournaments to remember

Sup­port­ing a good cause or re­mem­ber­ing a tra­gic loss, tour­na­ments here are ser­i­ous.

Tara Kirch­ner and her son Kev­in Jr. pose with a por­trait of their late hus­band and fath­er, Kev­in Tanczak, out­side of their home, Thursday, Ju­ly 28, 2011, in Phil­adelphia.

In the river wards, sum­mer is a time of tour­na­ments.

Like no oth­er part of the city, neigh­bor­hoods like Fishtown and Port Rich­mond come to­geth­er each year for a string of com­pet­it­ive events that draw thou­sands to area sports fields.

Most of these events have an un­der­ly­ing goal — sup­port­ing a fam­ily that has suffered, re­mem­ber­ing a lost loved one, or rais­ing money for a worthy cause.

Last week­end, Port Rich­mond was over­taken by the grand­fath­er of them all — The Sean Daily Me­mori­al Sports Tour­na­ment. That event, held mostly on the fields at the Co­hock­sink Re­cre­ation Cen­ter at Ce­dar and Ann streets, began 23 years ago.

As is of­ten the case, the ori­gin­al in­spir­a­tion for the tour­na­ment was a tra­gic death.

On May 21, 1989, Sean Daily, the son of Phil­adelphia Po­lice of­ficer Keith Daily, was beaten and shot to death not far from his Port Rich­mond home by a mob of angry teens seek­ing re­venge for a fight that took place earli­er that week.

The shock­ing murder sparked city­wide out­rage, and the res­id­ents of Port Rich­mond were de­term­ined to keep Sean Daily’s memory alive. At the time of his death he was just 17 and about to gradu­ate from North Cath­ol­ic High School. 

And, it just so happened that Keith Daily was one of the dads that helped form the Port Rich­mond Ti­gers ath­let­ic as­so­ci­ation in 1976.

That com­bin­a­tion led to the first-ever Sean Daily Me­mori­al Sports Tour­na­ment, a schol­ar­ship fund that raised $43,000 in its first eight months.

Tom Mack, a long time Ti­gers coach, has helped or­gan­ize the tour­na­ment for the last 17 years, and re­mem­bers the first one vividly.

“There was noth­ing like it. It was giv­en massive cov­er­age,” re­called Mack. “City Hall put up a soft­ball team, even WIP 610 put up a team.”

But, really, Mack said, the tour­na­ment was a neigh­bor­hood thing, and still is. 

“It was a tra­gic thing that happened to Sean, and it had a last­ing im­pact on the people in the neigh­bor­hood,” said Mack.

Last week­end’s event saw 37 teams com­pete over three days with thou­sands of spec­tat­ors. There were so many teams this year that they had to use some of the fields at the nearby Cione Play­ground to ac­com­mod­ate all of the games.

“It was one of the best years we’ve ever had,” said Mack, not­ing that des­pite the big turnout, there were re­l­at­ively few prob­lems with un­der­age drink­ing and oth­er head­aches that can ac­com­pany such large crowds.

Mack said Daily’s moth­er and fath­er have both passed away, and the event has been ad­op­ted and or­gan­ized by a tight team of Ti­gers vo­lun­teers. Today, rather than raise money for schol­ar­ships, the event helps raise money for the sports as­so­ci­ation and oth­er com­munity cof­fers, such as the Po­lice Sur­viv­ors Fund.

“We don’t get any­thing from the city, but we have 350 kids from the neigh­bor­hood that we’re try­ing to keep off the streets,” Mack said of the Ti­gers. “This helps us so we don’t have to worry about mak­ing par­ents reach in­to their pock­ets too deep with re­gis­tra­tion fees.”

He and oth­ers are quick to point out that the Sean Daily tour­na­ment sparked a num­ber of sim­il­ar events loc­ally — Mack eas­ily rattled off a half dozen dif­fer­ent tra­gedies that were me­mori­al­ized with loc­al tour­na­ments over the years. 

While many have fallen by the way­side, oth­ers have be­come icon­ic sum­mer rituals here in the river wards.

One of the biggest is the Mar­garet “Peg” Mc­Cook Sports Tour­na­ment, which was held at Cione Ju­ly 15-17. That event, now 13 years and count­ing, also drew a huge crowd this year and raised money for the Amer­ic­an Can­cer So­ci­ety and schol­ar­ships for stu­dents en­ter­ing high school.

Giv­ing both a run for their money in terms of funds raised and longev­ity is Fishtown’s Freddy Adams Tour­na­ment, which kicks off Fri­day, Aug. 12 and spans the week­end. Second only to the Daily tour­na­ment, Freddy Adams began in 1993 and has been a pop­u­lar event in the neigh­bor­hood ever since.

Like the Daily tour­na­ment, the Fishtown event was spawned by the murder of a young man and a com­munity’s grief.

In fact, the sim­il­ar­it­ies are many — Freddy Adams, 16, lived on Flora Street near the Fishtown Re­cre­ation Cen­ter on Mont­gomery Av­en­ue and was beaten to death in March of 1993 dur­ing a brawl with oth­er teens from a rival re­cre­ation cen­ter.

Sara Colville, Freddy’s aunt, said at first friends just held a soc­cer tour­na­ment to help cov­er fu­ner­al costs. But, tak­ing in­spir­a­tion from the Daily or­gan­izers, they soon ex­pan­ded the event to a full-on tour­na­ment that con­sumed Fishtown’s ath­let­ic fields.

Colville said get­ting the tour­na­ment to­geth­er every year is a chal­lenge — from the city per­mits and porta-pot­ties to the trophies and T-shirts — but that it’s worth the trouble.

“I dread the work, but then when every­one stands there to­geth­er at the end, there’s al­ways been some oth­er per­son that met a tra­gic end that year,” said Colville. “I just think how glad I am to be here with these friends.”

While the tour­na­ment is of­ten a sum­mer high­light for area kids and adults, the fam­ily also uses it as a time to re­mem­ber Freddy.

“You think about what he would have been like,” said Colville. “Would he have been mar­ried? Would he have kids? All week­end, people will talk about and re­mem­ber the things Freddy did.”

Colville also ad­mit­ted that the tour­na­ment has seen ups and downs over the years, but said the event typ­ic­ally draws 2,000 people and raises between $15,000 and $18,000 be­fore ex­penses are paid. Whatever is left goes to­ward schol­ar­ships and some seed money to get the event go­ing again next year.

Like the Daily be­fore them, the Freddy Adams has been a tem­plate for oth­ers in the neigh­bor­hood.

Kev­in Tanczak was 21 when he was shot and killed in 2006, leav­ing be­hind his fianc&ea­cute;e, Tara Kirch­ner, and a 1-year-old son, Kev­in Jr.

Every sum­mer for the last six years, friends have gathered for the Kev­in Tancza­ck Tour­na­ment, which raises money to help pay for Kev­in Jr.’s edu­ca­tion. They also plan to donate to the Anti-Vi­ol­ence Part­ner­ship of Phil­adelphia and Lost Dreams on Can­vas this year.

Kirch­ner, 27, grew up play­ing in the Freddy and played in the Daily tour­na­ment this year. Kev­in’s friends ap­proached her about hold­ing a tour­na­ment shortly after Kev­in’s death.

“At first, I didn’t want to do it,” said Kirch­ner. “I just wanted to sit by my­self in my house.”

But she even­tu­ally gave in, and has helped to or­gan­ize the tour­na­ment — fo­cus­ing mostly on horse­shoes and vol­ley­ball —  over the last few years.

This year, the event will be held at the Ukrain­i­an Club on Frank­lin Street in North­ern Liber­ties on Sat­urday Sept. 10.

And while Kirch­ner said she and Kev­in’s fam­ily hold a candle­light vi­gil each year, it’s help­ful for her son to see his fath­er’s friends gath­er­ing to re­mem­ber him.

“I think it’s good for him to see that,” said Kirch­ner.••

Get­ting in­volved

The Freddy Adams Sport Tour­na­ment will take place Aug. 12-14. Open­ing Ce­re­mon­ies will start at Het­zell’s Field, Thompson Street and Columbia Av­en­ue, at ap­prox­im­ately 6:15 p.m.

All sports rosters can be picked up at the Fishtown Re­cre­ation Cen­ter (Mont­gomery and Moy­er) or Shissler Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, Mont­gomery Av­en­ue and Blair Street.

If you have any sports-re­lated ques­tions, please con­tact Bobby Mul­venna at 215-554-7198.

For all oth­er ques­tions, please con­tact Sara Colville at 215-514-8404. You can also get up-to-date in­form­a­tion on the tour­na­ment Face­book page by search­ing for “Freddy Adams-Tour­na­ment.”

If you would like a roster e-mailed to you, please mes­sage Freddy Adams-Tour­na­ment on Face­book and provide the sport you are look­ing for and your email ad­dress; it will be sent with­in 24 hours.  Roster Dead­line:  Aug. 8 at 7 p.m.

To get in­volved in the Kev­in Tanczak Tour­na­ment, vis­it ht­tp://face­­in­tancz​ak­tour­na­ment.•• 

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