The Annual Invitational Co-Ed Softball Tournament is this weekend Sept. 8 and 9 at Tillicum Park. Proceeds go to fund local scholarships.
I was asked to highlight Charlotte Wedrick and find out what keeps her coming back to Forks every year to participate in annual tournaments.
She answers in her own words …
Christi Baron, Editor
By Charlotte Wedrick
The co-ed tournament that happens this weekend was established in 1987, and I am the tournament director.
It’s an event that took time to grow.
In 1987, Forks was not really the “destination” for tourism or softball at that time. Forks teams had to travel if they wanted to play.
At first, I sent out over 300 hundred invitations using the ASA tournament guide, only to get eight teams for the first couple of years.
I forged on.
With my passion for the game and passion to create tourism for the area, I knew it would grow.
I just needed to be patient and determined.
I also was the West End Co-Ed League administrator, organizing league play.
Softball for me was a nice recreational activity for fitness and for the people of the community.
Co-ed play was emerging and becoming quite popular. It allowed women and men an outlet to continue their sport.
After about three years, the tournament began taking off.
We had teams from Forks who were competitive and participated in area tournaments.
People saw us as serious competitors and began sparking interest in my tournament.
It soon began growing from eight to 10, 12 teams and as many as 18.
They come from Seattle, Tacoma, Port Townsend, Chimacum, Port Angeles and Sequim.
Over the years, there are many favorite memories.
In particular, there was a year when a few of my umpires, who worked for DNR, were called out on fires.
I can remember being in tears wondering how I was going to pull it all off.
Yet, in the end, it all worked out.
My first tournament when I had to deal with rain, I was so stressed out; I thought teams would back out.
A team from Port Angeles had gone to Forks Thriftway and purchased 33-gallon garbage sacks.
They used duct tape to put their team name and number on the garbage sack, cut out a small hole for the head to go through, and they played that day with the garbage sack uniform.
Not only did it make my day, easing my stress, but their spirit of enthusiasm and looking at the rain as “fun” captured everyone’s heart.
We laughed, had fun, and it all turned out great in the end.
I was stunned, years later when many teams asked me if I could hold a “mud bowl.”
It was always important for me to have the tournament organized and ran with integrity. To me, it was the only way to keep people returning each year.
The rain, I knew, would be my biggest obstacle to overcome. And, in the end, not only sunny weekends but a rainy day, it became a part of Forks and softball.
Five years later, Wayne Davis and the Fred Orr committee approached me asking if I would organize a tournament for them to help fund their scholarships. The Fred Orr Tournament went from giving away one $100 scholarship to now giving away two $700 scholarships.
Eight years ago, with the loss of a good friend, a softball player Tod Horton, Dan Trickey approached me asking if I would help him to establish a tournament in Tod’s honor.
It has been an amazing journey these past 30 years, from tears to joy, in friendships made and some teams making the Forks tournament their “vacation” weekend. It was always my goal to have Forks become a tourism destination. I saw so much beauty and so much opportunity for recreation and a community that valued family.
With Forks being my home for 34 years, it was a very difficult decision to make when I decided to move. Now, being gone five years, yes, I do return to Forks for my tournaments. I love Forks. I always have. Forks was my home, and in my heart it’s still my home. I do plan to return to Forks when I retire. I still hold dear the people who supported me and all my friends.
I worked very hard to become a part of the community and to establish the tournaments. The tournaments had become an integral part of Forks. The tournaments, as softball players, we all were a family. A family of people who worked hard played hard, and for those who came from out of town, they saw our community as open and welcoming.
They came to play softball, visit the ocean beaches with their family, experiencing the Olympic Peninsula and its wonderful community, Forks, as a destination. They saw our value as a community and what the area really had to offer. My goal had been reached, to support Forks as a tourism community. To help it grow and support its economy. The tournaments, I would like to think, have been a stepping stone as a part of the growth of Forks.