July 7 was the ninth day of an intensive, activity-filled 33-day tour (the third day in Medina County) being conducted by Jeff Potter, founder of Potter's Pirates. Potter pitched in the Detroit Tigers system until an injury ended his professional baseball career.
Since then, Potter has dedicated his life to teaching the fundamentals of life and baseball to young people, focusing on respect, hard work, selflessness, and passion. He started Potter's Pirates 10 years ago and is a very upbeat mentor. His positive energy challenges, encourages, praises, and inspires these youngsters to be grateful, to be respectiful, and to be of service to their communities.
Potter's Pirates began their stay in Medina July 5, the Pirate's third year to visit this area, with an afternoon benefit event for Miracle League at Sam Masi Field, after which they visited Emerald Nursing Home, enjoyed a picnic, played a ballgame, and then participated in Home Run Derby with the Miracle League that evening. Saturday they spent the entire day playing baseball with teams in Seven Hills, followed by a baseball clinic.
All of Sunday, the last of their three days in Medina County, was devoted to activities to raise funds for Collin Cares-Cure Cancer, a group that was inspired by Collin, a young athlete, who had cancer and loved sports. The organization donates funds raised to families who have a member with cancer.
The 26 early to mid-teenagers from six different states began washing cars at 8 a.m. at the Brunswick Eagles aerie, and continued until noon, when the Ladies Auxiliary of the Brunswick Eagles prepared lunch for them. From there they went into Medina for some games.
Through these annual tours, Potter brings together a group of young individuals from all over - on this tour the players are from Pennsylvania (eight), New Jersey (one), Virginia (eight), Maryland (seven), Alabama (one), and Ohio (one) - who travel through several other states, combining sports with community service and charitable work.
This year's participants are: Jared Bakaysa, Jake Bardsley, Lee Beary, Tyler Blevins, Espen Bonfardine, Brady Brathuhn, Ethan Brathuhn, Zach Brathuhn, Evan Cash, Noah DiTullio, Gavin Ellison, Ethan Elswick, Matthew Goppold, Greg Harris, Kahleb Herring, Christian Hill, Nick Hill, Josh Huffman, Emma Kalinski (her third year on the tour), Evan Kalinski, Daniel Meyer, Ethan Rissmiller, Bryan Shirkey, Dylan Skidmore, Jordan Soriano, and Carter Vaughn.
Chaperoning the group with Potter are Scott DiTullio, Gregory Gonda, and Dennis Shirkey.
Interspersed among the scheduled activities were entertaining goofy golf games, corn hole tournaments, and sports clinics.
The initiative to invite Potter's Pirates to the Medina County area was originally introduced by Dave and Susan Ungham. Several families in Brunswick and Medina provided housing for the Pirates, and community members generously donated snacks and beverages during their stay.