RICE TWP. — The sun was shining and the sacks were flying as the Mountain Top Junior Comets mini-soccer organization held its annual corn tournament to raise money for team equipment and registration fees.
The third annual Junior Comets Tournament, held at the American Legion Post 781 next to the Mountain Post Baseball Field in Rice Township, brought players of all ages behind the boards to try to win it all — while helping the program purchase equipment for kids who play in program, as well as cover other costs.
“It’s a huge help,” said Gary Gensil, one of the main organizers of the annual Cornhole tournament. “It’s a way that we can provide these kids with the newest, newest and best equipment.”
Gensil and Jake Boyle were in the registration tent as teams began to gather at the pavilion outside the Legion Hall to register for the tournament.
The tournament was divided into two age categories: children’s under 13 and adult. Organizers said they had 13 adult teams and eight children’s teams registered based on pre-registration, which are also welcome until the 1 p.m. start.
Among the bracket’s kid competitors raring to go was Boyle’s son Seth, 11, a member of the Junior Comets with six years of football experience.
When asked about his chances of winning on Saturday, he shrugged and said: “Hopefully it depends on whether we can get the bags in the pit.”
Before the tournament, attendees were invited to play under the pavilion or stop by the concession stand and check out the lineup provided by Junior Comets Concessions Manager Mike Lazo.
The idea for the Cornhole tournament came from a previous Jr. feature. Comets fundraiser set up to get more young athletes involved.
“We used to have a golf tournament, but it didn’t involve kids,” Boyle said. “Kids aren’t going to go play 18 holes, but they’re going to come here and throw bags.”
Additional funds were raised through a ‘cheer basket’ raffle – money for the Junior Comets cheer squad, with the winner of the raffle going home with a different basket of spirits sure to bring a lot of cheer to the lucky person.
Training for the Junior Comets has already begun, with the first games just two weeks away, and if the big turnout for Saturday’s tournament is any indication the young athletes will have plenty of community support – and their parents some relief from financial headaches – when they hit the field.
“Football uniforms and equipment and making sure everything is legal and safe for these kids is very important,” Boyle said. “If we weren’t able to do fundraisers like this, our registration costs would be prohibitive.”
Gensil added: “It’s definitely very important … without fundraising we wouldn’t be able to do what we need to.”