The second annual #WillStrong Soccer Tournament brought in dozens of teams and hundreds of players on a steamy, sunny Saturday morning and afternoon at the Bryant Soccer Fields in Ludington.
The tournament featured players of various ages and skill levels, from the teenagers just a few weeks away from heading back to school to their parents who are getting out and being active while participating and raising funds for the Childhood Cancer Campaign.
The tournament was played in honor of Will Flewelling, who passed away last year after a fight with cancer. Flewelling had several passions in his life with soccer being one.
“It’s nice to see all of the people that came out to support it,” said Jamie Flewelling, Will’s dad and donning a blue-and-maize jersey to support the team he was backing — one with the colors of Will’s favorite college athletics program , the University of Michigan. “All of his friends that are home from college or taking time off from jobs.”
From Will’s coaches to his former teammates and classmates and many, many others, they were there to play, buy into the raffles and have some good ol’ fashioned lemonade. It didn’t take long for the players to be dripping in sweat from the warm day in the low to mid-80s.
Flewelling hosted lemonade stands and more to give back to the Childhood Cancer Campaign. Co-chairs Tom and Patricia Ezdebski were on hand to distribute the lemonade near the concession stand. Tom Ezdebski said the organization is currently assisting seven young people in various fights against the disease. One child was just added in over the last handful of weeks.
Kyle Gurzynski, Will’s cousin and one of the organizers of the tournament, said there were 30 teams with roughly 300 players taking part. There were several volunteers that also assisted, and just through registration alone, he believed $10,000 was raised for the Childhood Cancer Campaign.
Gurzynski said he was grateful for Ludington Recreation Soccer and the board that oversees the Bryant Soccer Fields to have the bathrooms and concessions cleaned and ready for the day. He said two volunteers spent 10 hours painting the fields and making them ready for the day’s games.