Death of player turns softball celebration into tragedy

Parrsboro teams lose member after winning provincial championships

Andrew Wagstaff awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca
Published on June 4, 2012
The Parrsboro Warriors boys and girls softball teams won their provincial championships in Cape Breton on Saturday, although the celebration was cut short early Monday morning with word of the death of one of the players.
Contributed by Jeannie Hunter

PARRSBORO – Both of this town's high school softball teams won provincial championships for the first time over the weekend, but the celebration has been marred by the tragic loss of one of the players.

An 18-year-old Parrsboro youth, who had been a member of the championship boys' team , was found dead early Monday morning. Other than rampant Facebook postings, the identity of the victim and the circumstances of the death have not been made public, although RCMP confirmed there was a death.

"We responded at about 6:20 a.m. to a sudden death, and located an 18-year-old male," said Const. Dal Hutchinson. "There is no foul play suspected, or anything of that nature."

Hutchinson was one of the support personnel in place at Parrsboro Regional High School Monday and was planning to be there all day Tuesday as well. Many of the students' friends and teammates were congregating at the home of their coaches, Matt and Charlene Smith, to support each other and try and make sense of the tragedy.

"This has put a huge dark cloud over everything right now," said Hutchinson. "Grad week events were starting this week, and it's going to be a hell of a week for the kids. How much more can this community take when it comes to grief-related issues?"

The death is the fourth among Parrsboro's youth population in less than two years.

The school was to be opened Monday evening for grieving friends, family and students.

As for the provincial championships, the Parrsboro Warriors boys' team captured its first provincial banner with a thrilling 10-9 victory over Inverness in Louisdale on June 2, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the come-from-behind win.

Coach Matt Smith said the victory was extremely emotional for the boys.

"They didn't really know how to handle the emotions," he said. "We knew it would be an emotional time for them and it was. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."

The Warriors started the tournament with a 10-1 win over Shelburne on Friday, followed by an 8-2 victory over Pugwash. On Saturday morning they lost a nine-inning thriller 17-16 against Inverness, which would be the only blemish on their record for the entire season. A 12-11 win over Springhill in the semi-final on Saturday put them into the championship game.

The team loses four players this year – Trevor Johnson, Patrick Morris, Ryan Quinn and Sage Walton – but Smith said they will retain a strong core of players and add several rookies to remain strong next year.

Meanwhile, about 90 minutes away in Inverness, the Parrsboro girls were putting in an impressive performance of their own. The girls captured their first provincial softball banner with an 11-3 win over Duncan MacMillan High School on Saturday.

The win capped off a perfect weekend for the girls, who beat North Queens 14-5 in the tournament opener on Friday, followed by an 18-7 win over Duncan MacMillan. Saturday morning saw them beat the hosting Inverness team 19-3, followed by a 9-6 win over New Germany in the semi-finals.

"It's kind of cool, Parrsboro high has only had one provincial banner in however many years, and all of a sudden it has two in one weekend," said Smith.

The school's only previous provincial championship in any sport was won by the boys' soccer team in 2002.