What began as one family’s efforts to heal after loss has become a premier soccer tournament on the Virginia Peninsula, impacting hundreds of players, volunteers, and families every year. The Christine Garvey Memorial Soccer Tournament, now in its 16th edition, will be held March 17-19. The tournament will take place over three days at half a dozen Peninsula venues, including Wolftrap Park, where the inspiration for the event occurred.
Tournament director Pat Garvey, whose first wife Christine passed away from breast cancer in December of 1998, was with her when their son Kyle scored a goal during the last soccer game she attended at Wolftrap Park a few months before her passing. “Kyle scored a goal from the right side of the pitch to the upper left corner of the goal,” Pat said. “I can still see Chris sitting there, watching that goal being scored. I think that’s where my idea for a soccer tournament got its start.”
The first edition was held in March of 2000 and 16 teams participated. The tournament, which includes boys’ and girls’ junior varsity and varsity teams, expanded to 32 teams its second year and has remained at that number ever since.
“We now have coaches who used to play in the tournament when they were in high school,” Pat said. “We have young people playing in the event who weren’t even born when it first began.”
The first tournament in 2000 was a labor of love. Pat, seeking a way to overcome his grief and honor his first wife, organized the event with a dozen friends. The next year he teamed up with the Kiwanis Club of Poquoson. Just as the tournament has grown to include players from all over the region and beyond, the Kiwanis support grew too and now includes sponsorship from numerous clubs throughout the area.
Per Christine’s wishes, funds raised from the tournament went to a national organization for breast cancer research and education. Three years ago Pat decided to work with two nonprofits a little closer to home – Beyond Boobs! and Edmarc Hospice for Children.
“For me, it is not happenstance that Beyond Boobs! and this tournament ended up being connected,” said Pat. “When we got together three years ago I had no idea that my daughter Kate would one day be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38.”
Pat works closely with Beyond Boobs! Executive Director and co-founder Mary Beth Gibson, and she was the first person he called when he learned of his daughter’s diagnosis. His second wife, Jane, was also diagnosed with breast cancer and is a seven-year survivor. After confronting the disease twice, he knew the importance of advice and support. He wanted his daughter to experience all of the love and encouragement that Beyond Boobs! provides to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Several women from Beyond Boobs! will also be part of the action during the tournament. They will hand out trophies on the 19th to the girls’ varsity team at Bailey Field and to the junior varsity team at Wolftrap Park that same day.
Everyone is invited to come out and cheer on the teams at the tournament. Attendees can purchase a tournament pass for $10 and watch any game at any venue. Day passes are also available for $5 and allow attendees to watch games at any venue for the entire day. Donations of any amount to Beyond Boobs! or Edmarc Hospice for Children can be given when purchasing passes.
For more information about the tournament, visit www.thechirstinegarveymemorial.com.