Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trevor Haag, Orofino’s “Angel of Baseball”

Trevor’s father, Tracy Haag, said “Trevor was very competitive and hated to lose. But he was also a good sport and he would help other kids a lot.”

By Alannah Allbrett
  Baseball season is beginning to fade to a memory for some people, and they are already moving on to football and soccer seasons. But, for the hardworking people who sponsor the annual Trevor Haag Memorial Tournament exciting plans are already tentatively underway for next year’s event.
  This year’s event was the eighth Trevor Haag Memorial Tournament, a tournament unique in many ways. Many future big leaguers are already looking forward to season nine in Orofino.
  The excitement starts each year with a free breakfast on Saturday and Sunday at The traditional breakfast was started by Trevor’s grandparents, the late Chuck and Linda Haag. Trevor’s other grandparents are Tim and Carol Adams of Orofino. All of Trevor’s family: grand parents, aunts and uncles, and immediate family all come out to help. Some family members come from Florida, New Hampshire and New York to stay involved with the tournament.
  Excitement mounts in the opening ceremony, as the teams line up on the field. There is a short welcoming speech as the Haag family stands on the pitcher’s mound. Ally Statler comes forward to sing the national Anthem. Colorful, red, white, and blue balloons are released overhead. The balloon colors are white for Grandma Linda, red is for Trevor’s grandparents, and the blue is for Trevor. Someone is chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the games begin.
  Trevor Haag started playing T-ball at age five, “He played every year that he could,” said his father Tracy. Trevor lost his life to a rare and undiagnosed heart condition (Long QT Syndrome) when he was only twelve years old.
  In 2003 he participated in a motorcycle race in Kamiah and seemed fine at the time. During the race he coasted to a stop, his bike toppled over, and he fell to the ground. When people ran to his aide, his heart had already stopped beating. His older brother Justin has the same condition and uses a defibrillator. Justin still maintains an active lifestyle playing basketball but has been through several related health challenges.
  Police Chief, Jeff Wilson, who was instrumental in organizing the tournament, in 2004, and also Trevor’s coach, said that Trevor’s passing was really hard on his classmates; “It was really devastating,” he said. Jeff and Jamie Wilson both wanted to do something memorable in Trevor’s honor to promote the sport Trevor loved best and make a positive difference in many kids’ lives.
  The tournament, which began with six teams, grew to 26 teams last year. In 2010, 285 kids participated. Through word-of-mouth and Facebook, word has gotten around about this outstanding tournament, and people time their summer vacations now so they can attend from as far away as Washington, Oregon, and Montana.
  “When we started out,” Jeff said, “we did a few things differently. We offer especially nice trophies for one thing. There is a huge one for the Trevor Haag Award, for the most inspiring member in the tournament.” The Haag family selects the player who will receive its highest honor. There is also a Justin Haag Team Award, which goes to the team that best exemplifies good sportsmanship qualities in competition.
  In 2004, a large billboard sign, with a picture of Trevor on it, was erected at the VFW field. Each year, the name of the championship team is listed below on a permanent plaque. ASE Signs created the sign and donated the labor for construction.
  Another thing that is unusual about this tournament is that the umpires, score board keepers, concessions, and people who do the field maintenance are all volunteer helpers. Many tournaments have to hire people to do these jobs but not in Orofino. Jeff said many people were eager to get involved and wanted to help.
  “We usually try to do something special for the Haags,” said Jeff. This year we had authentic baseball jersey’s made that had the #8 on the back along with “T. HAAG,” and the front said “Trevor Haag Memorial Tournament.” Trevor’s mother Annette, Tracy, and Justin were each given a jersey, and one was framed, representing one for Trevor.
  Each year tee-shirts and supplies have to be ordered and materials need to be printed. The event is not an easy one to plan, since the schedules have to be printed in advance of knowing how many people will actually attend. Jeff and Jamie Wilson have, with experience, gotten pretty good at guesstimating the event.
  Several positive emails have been received from visitors to the tournament. The following one pretty much sums up the reason for all the effort that goes into it. 
  “It was an honor for me, my coaching staff, our players, and our families to be a part of an event this great in honor of a young man we were never fortunate enough to meet. Interestingly enough, after listening to stories about Trevor from locals, we left town feeling as if we did know him. I certainly hope the Haag family knows that even though most of the players that came to town this past weekend did not know Trevor personally, that Trevor has touched their lives now. Those of us involved in South Sound Baseball wish Orofino Youth Baseball, the town of Orofino, and the Haag family happiness and continued success in ventures working with kids.” Jeremy Larson Manager South Sound All Stars.
  The tournament continues to generate good will throughout many communities and brings people to our area, often for the first time. Another email thanked all the volunteers that prepped fields, kept score, and were out there in the heat in umpire gear. They enjoyed Orofino so much; they chose to stay an extra day.
Looking forward
  Next year promises to be a good one as special events are being planned already. Jeff said they want to put together a real social event in the city park. Instead of the usual late game, plans are for having a band in the park, so all the players will have a chance to intermingle and continue the fun. All the lights on the field will be on for kids to play, and kids can look forward to Whiffle ball and other fun things.
  Trevor’s father, Tracy, said his son was very competitive and hated to lose. “Jeff, his coach, had to bench him a couple of times. But he was also a good sport and he would help other kids a lot.” Tracy and Annette Haag wish especially to thank Jeff and Jamie Wilson; “We really appreciate all they have done over the years as well as the many volunteers who willingly pitch in,” Tracy said.

Pictured are some of the great trophies and ribbons given out each year at the Trevor Haag Memorial Tournament. These trophies are awarded to the first through fourth champions and also consolation champions for both the age 12 and under and 10 and under divisions.

Pictured is the Justin Haag Trophy named after Trevor’s brother Justin.

Pictured is the Trevor Haag Trophy given to the player who is voted the most inspirational player of the tournament. The recipient is chosen by the Haag family.

No comments:

Post a Comment