2010-07-23 / Team Leominster

Stacey Bradley Tournament

Putting a smile on little faces all summer long
STORY BY MICHAEL JAMES LECLAIR
It appeared that the annual Stacey Bradley Baseball Tournament, based out of Lunenburg, was in trouble

Reed Parson, son of Greg Parson who helps coach the Leominster American team, is all smiles as he enjoys summertime baseball. PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHERYL CUDDAHY Reed Parson, son of Greg Parson who helps coach the Leominster American team, is all smiles as he enjoys summertime baseball. PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHERYL CUDDAHY entering the 2010 season. Fortunately for area 7- and 8-year-old baseball enthusiasts, that trouble is quickly fading.

The tournament, now in its seventh year, was a couple thousand dollars in the red entering this year’s campaign. Thanks to some generous donations from local Little Leagues, the tournament is back on track and should continue well past next year.

“When we started seven years ago we had four teams, now we have 13. The tournament has grown every year. We’re not soliciting teams, they’re coming to find us,” said tournament director Bryan Bradley. “We were hurting financially coming in and lost a lot of our sponsors due to the economy and next year’s tournament was in question. That was until many of the teams and the families of players involved stepped up and helped, it’s been unbelievable.”

Open to 7- and 8-year-olds, some who will be making the jump to Little League baseball next year, the tournament teaches the fundamentals of the game and instills a love for the sport. This year, 13 area teams entered into the five-week tournament that runs through August. The list of towns represented includes: Lunenburg, Leominster, Groton, Pepperell, Southborough, Athol, Westminster, Shirley, Ashburnham and Townsend.

The tournament is in honor of Bradley’s sister, Stacey, who tragically lost her life in an automobile accident in September 2003. During that summer, the Bradley’s eight-year-old son, Jacob, participated in a summer baseball tournament in Hopkinton with the rest of his Lunenburg teammates.

The Bradley family, with a little help from area friends and volunteers, decided to honor Stacey by hosting a similar tournament in the town of Lunenburg where youngsters could have some fun and learn about sportsmanship, team play and, of course, baseball.

“The smile on these kids’ faces and watching them get better all summer long, it’s what makes it all worthwhile,” Bradley said.

Assistant Tournament Director, and Bradley’s right-hand man, Dan Lincoln says things have been pretty smooth thus far.

“Things have been going really well so far. Having 13 teams in it this year for the first time means a little extra work,” Lincoln said. “It makes us feel good knowing that the word is getting out and new teams want to join our tournament. There’s been nothing but positive feedback.”

Bradley and Lincoln aren’t the only ones singing the praise of the tournament. Coaches and parents alike were showering the tournament with kind words.

“It’s been an amazing experience. We’ve had a blast, I would recommend it to every league,” said Leominster American coach Greg Parson. “When we got the email from Bryan (Bradley) saying they may not do it next year, I immediately called our league president and said that we didn’t want to see the tournament end, we wanted to try and help.”

Parson, along with fellow coaches Cory Lacouture, Doug Hunt and manager Greg Carr love the experience.

“North Leominster has been a part of this tournament since its inception and it’s just a great tournament,” said North Leominster coach Eric Hytinen. “The kids love to play and be a part of it. This tournament really is all about the kids.”

All three Leominster Little Leagues are involved in the tournament, including Leominster National.

For more information on the Stacey Bradley tournament, contact Bryan Bradley at: (978) 400-6763 or visit the Lunenburg Little League Web site at www.lunenburglittleleague.com.

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