Back the Blue softball tournament raises $60,000 for B.A.D.G.E.


Kayleigh Emberton

Back the Blue. Five teams from all over the county competed in a softball tournament supporting first responders in Forsyth County. Teachers and staff from schools in the county came together to support first responders. Three teachers and softball coaches from South, Coach Brooks, Coach Weber, and Coach Pearson, competed in this tournament.

Kayleigh Emberton, Senior Editor

On Saturday, September 26, people from all over Forysth county gathered at Central Park to watch the Back the Blue Softball Tournament. Games started at 11:00 and five groups of government employees showed up to support the Benevolent Association Dedicated to Giving to Employees (B.A.D.G.E.), by donating money and paying fees to compete in the tournament. Members of the Forsyth County Fire Department, Police Department, Mayor’s office, School District, and Parks and Recreation Center competed in jerseys donated by the Cumming Law Firm (Lipscomb, Johnson, Dailey, and Smith). The winning team, The Mayor’s Office, won a Back the Blue trophy donated by B&B in Cumming.

B.A.D.G.E. is an organization that helps first responders with unexpected troubles. These conflicts can be anything from being injured in the line of duty to a family crisis. Citizens and businesses in the community who appreciate these men and women lead this organization in order to give back to local heroes. B.A.D.G.E. creates hope for public safety workers, who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of others, through funding from fundraisers and donations.  An article in Up and Cumming Magazine highlighted many examples of B.A.D.G.E.’s work within the police force. 

The article mentioned above explained how, in 2014, Deputy Rush was a recipient of this organization’s generosity. He was one of the first officers on the scene when a gunman tried to attack the Forsyth County Courthouse in 2014. The gunman shot Officer Rush. B.A.D.G.E. came together and raised money for him and his family. This organization has done amazing things in the past and with the $60,000 that attendees raised on Saturday at the tournament, the organization can continue to save those who selflessly protect the community.

Steve Honn, Forsyth County’s Safety Coordinator, reached out to the head coach, Leanne Brooks. After hearing about this opportunity, and checking South’s Softball schedule, she jumped at the opportunity to play. Coach Brooks reached out to the rest of the coaching staff and Coach Pearson and Coach Weber joined Coach Brooks on team Forysth County Schools.

Coach Pearson reflected on the tournament by saying, “When I saw the number of participants and individuals at the tournament, I was so thankful that I decided to play in the event.  It was a way I could show the first responders, who we were playing for, that we as a community have their back no matter what.”

Kayleigh Emberton

Honorary mayor, Charlie Westbrook threw out the first pitch, signifying the start of the tournament. Forsyth County teachers and coaches started off by playing the Fire Department. After three innings of six outs and one inning of three outs, Forsyth County Schools came out on top.

After this first game, Coach Pearson felt confident about the rest of the day, “I felt pretty good after our first game against the Fire Department.  Honestly, Coach Brooks and I were saying after that game that we might have an opportunity to do good in the tournament, our team was pretty solid.”

The next games were against the Parks and Rec. center, the Mayor’s Office, and the Police Department. After four long games, Forsyth County Schools had a winning record of 3-1. The tournament was double-elimination and Forsyth County Schools had to beat the next team, Fire, in order to stay in the tournament. After four long innings, FoCo Schools came out on top and had to play Mayor’s Office twice to win the tournament.

After the first game, Coach Brooks was excited to get a chance to play Mayor’s Office again, “In the first game, we only lost by three so I was thinking that maybe we had a chance but if we beat them the first time we would have to beat them again because it is double elimination. I didn’t know if that was possible, but the first two innings they didn’t score and we were winning so I was hopeful that maybe we would be able to pull it off but they were just really good.”

Kayleigh Emberton

At the end of the day, Mayor’s Office won the tournament but Forsyth County citizens raised $60,000 for a great cause. The atmosphere was light-hearted and supportive which made for an amazing Saturday. “When I saw the number of participants and individuals at the tournament I was so thankful that I decided to play in the event,” Coach Pearson reflected, “It was a way I could show the first responders who we were playing for that we as a community have their back no matter what.”