Slo-pitch tournament memorial held for Connor (Naaytawash) Pelletier-Commanda
A slo-pitch tournament hosting 16 male and female teams took place in Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) over three days on the Labour Day weekend (ending Sunday). The tournament was to honour Connor Pelletier-Commanda, a 17-year-old who was critically injured in a car accident on July 30, 2016 near Spanish. Connor, (Naaytawash) was well known along the North Shore for his prowess and skills in both hockey and baseball.
The goal of the tournament was to raise enough funds to provide two athletic scholarship bursaries in Connor’s name for high school students attending Elliot Lake Secondary School, Espanola High School and WC Eaket Secondary School in Blind River.
In addition to the bursaries in Connor’s name, tournament organizers are adding to the athletic award given to the athlete of the year at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Elliot Lake.
“We’re attaching $200 (to the award) to help them out and to honour Connor,” said Miranda, key organizer and Connor’s mother.
According to Pelletier, “teams came from all along the North Shore and some all the way from Alberta to remember my son Connor, who was very passionate about sports, including baseball.”
The baseball field in SRFN has been recently upgraded with bleachers, home and visitor benches, as well as a finished ball diamond. There is a memorial plaque honouring the young star player at the home team bench engraved, “Because someone we love is in heaven, we have a little piece of heaven on the field.”
With Connor’s passing last year, his influence and inspiration is proving to be like that hidden stream under the ground making the land greener for those he inspired for years to come.
Prizes were awarded at the tournament to the three top teams, as well as to the most valuable players (MVP) on each team. The MVPs were chosen by opposing teams picking the winner on the other team. Also, an MVP award was given to the umpire’s choice of best player on the championship team.
This tournament was the first to take place on the new field. Throughout the tournament, volunteers sold hot food, snacks and drinks to assist with building funds for the bursary. Souvenirs including tee shirts and bandanas were also sold.
The 16 teams playing in the tournament paid a $400 registration fee to participate. Sponsors for the event included Karen and Jeff from Sumac Tee Pees, Doc and Bruce from Scone and Wong, McDougal Energy, Rona Lumber in Massey and Elliot Lake, SRFN economic development office, as well as others including AJ Bus Lines in Blind River.
Tournament organizers put on a licensed dance on Saturday night at the SRFN band hall. AJ Bus Lines provided free transportation to and from the dance from Elliot Lake at 7 p.m. and returned party goers a ride back to Elliot at 2 a.m.
One of the teams participating was family members of the Commanda Pelletier family. All teams sported the logo ‘CPC 28’ on their jerseys commemorating Connor Pelletier Commanda, who wore number 28 while playing baseball in the area.
Miranda summed it all up saying, “I can’t thank all of the volunteers from our community and surrounding area enough. We just want everybody to have fun and enjoy the tournament.”
Organizers are planning on making this tournament an annual event.
Pelletier-Commanda team making a hit at home plate.
Pelletier-Commanda slo-pitch team posing at home plate.