Little Kevin softball game benefits youth hockey in Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — The strong connection built over the years between local law enforcement and firefighters and the Ferris State hockey program will be reunited this weekend, starting with the Friday’s Little Kevin Hockey Fund softball game.

This year’s game takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and will feature a matchup that pits local heroes from the police and firefighters force against Bulldog hockey alumni. All proceeds raised from a 50/50 drawing go to the Mecosta County Community Foundation.

The Little Kevin Hockey Fund has raised more than $63,000 to date since 2002. The fund serves in honor of Kevin and Julie Courtney’s son, Kevin.

ON THE WAY: Nick Scheible delivers a pitch during the Little Kevin Hockey Fund softball game. This year’s game will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Hemlock Park. (Pioneer file photo)

The fund was created 10 years ago by Kevin and Julie Courntey in honor of their son, Kevin, who passed away when he was 5-years-old. The game raises money for the Learn to Skate program and the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association.

“It really is heartwarming when you try to help the (hockey) program and have a positive impact, and the guys go out of the way to help in any way they can,” Courtney said of the FSU hockey program’s connection with the Little Kevin Fund. “Going back far, (the fund) has far exceeded what I’ve put into it. It’s comforting to know that my boy won’t be forgotten, and that he had a footprint in Big Rapids.”

Thanks to the continued donations and money raise at events like Friday’s softball game, youth hockey is able to thrive in Big Rapids, Courtney said. Those funds have allowed children to attend the Learn to Skate Program with full scholarships.

The fund also has been able to contribute to smaller grants for the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association and the Big Rapids High School program.

“It really benefits the kids that might have a mom or dad that’s hesitant to give their kid a chance to try the sport,” Courtney said. “The skills you learn aren’t just life skills, but it also gives you the skillset of how to hold your hands, getting into shape and just being active and playing games.”

The softball game is part of a weekend of celebration for the Ferris State hockey program and its alumni. A postgame reception will take place for players, family and friends on Friday night at Shooters sponsored by the FSU Blueline Club.

Being able to share memories with the team as it reunites every August is something that Courtney certainly values.

“The neat thing about the bonds between the players and the people in the community is that they’re sincere friendships and relationships,” he said. “It’s not a situation where you only want to form a relationship with Chris Kunitz, or Greg Rallo or Zach Redmond because they’re having success now. Those relationships would have existed whether they’ve had that level of success or not.”

Following Friday’s festivities, the weekend also will feature Ferris State Hockey’s Annual Golf Outing. A total of more than 40 teams and 160 golfers for the 27th annual event on Saturday at Katke Golf Course.

“We’re thrilled again with the outstanding turnout expected for this year’s event, which comes on the heels of a record crowd last year,” said FSU head coach Bob Daniels. “This outing is also an enjoyable event as we welcome back the alumni players in addition to having the opportunity to interract all the tremendous community supporters and fans. We thank everyone for their support of this event.”

Due to state regulations, all beverages this year must be purchased at the course.

Along with the golf outing, Saturday’s events will include a morning reception for former players and coaches along with lunch at the course prior to the 18 holes of golf. A dinner and awards ceremony will follow at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center.

For more information and/or questions pertaining to the 2013 Bulldog Hockey Classic-Alumni Golf Outing, please contact Ferris State Hockey Associate Head Coach Drew Famulak at (231) 591-2887 or via e-mail at famulakd@ferris.edu.

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