For 25 years, Wayne Potvin did nearly all of the planning for the annual summer baseball tournament held in memory of his late son, Christopher. But Potvin admitted it was getting increasingly difficult to do by himself.
“Up until last year, I was just going to give it up,” Potvin said. “It is just unbelievable for one guy. You can’t do it.”
Fittingly, it was one of Christopher’s best friends, Bill Buscetto, who stepped up to help Potvin keep the Christopher Potvin Memorial Fund Tournament going. Last year, Buscetto became the team contact, found fields on which to play and organized the schedule for each of the divisions.
Buscetto also has played an integral role in planning the 27th edition of the tournament, which begins on Saturday with 15-U, 17-U and 19-U divisions squaring off in East Lyme. On Monday, the remaining teams will move to Dodd Stadium in Norwich, where champions will be crowned.
On Aug. 10, Potvin will award 20 $1,000 scholarships to local student-athletes who are headed to college in the fall. According to Potvin, the Christopher Potvin Memorial Fund has awarded $405,000 in scholarship money since its inception in 1987.
The scholarship fund was an important reason why Buscetto wanted to become more involved in the tournament.
“This fund started as a tribute to Chris, who was such a great kid, and a fun-loving kid and a great athlete and a great student,” Buscetto said. “It would be a shame for this tournament and this fund to stop because of lack of volunteers or whatever.”
And Buscetto’s help has been more than welcome to Potvin. “He is the reason that I want to keep going because it is so unbelievably hard for one guy,” Potvin said of Buscetto. “He’s cut my workload right in half.”
Help from the community hasn’t hurt either. Potvin said he received close to $18,000 from the cards he annually mails to raise scholarship money, and the town of East Lyme has provided fields for the opening weekend of baseball games.
There are 14 teams involved in three divisions, but Buscetto said there is a possibility that a 13-U division will be added before Saturday. The number of teams involved is lower than many previous seasons, but Buscetto said that doesn’t mean the competition level is down.
“The local teams, instead of putting together a few weaker teams, they’ve all banded together and combined to make really, really strong teams, especially in the 17- and 19-U divisions,” Buscetto said. “The talent level is outstanding. If you look across the board, all of your better baseball players from Eastern Connecticut from the last year or two — some who went off to college — they’ll all be playing in the tournament, which is good for the tournament and good for the kids.”