Jared Quirk Memorial Speedball Tournament Held
Matt O’Brien, Veritas Staff
The first annual Jared Lewis Quirk Memorial Speedball Tournament was held from June 3 to June 5 at Rockland High School.
Speedball is a beloved game and tradition at Rockland High. Following the death of Jared Quirk in April, English teacher Kristen Walsh organized the tournament in his memory. She explained that RHS alumni Ryan Quirk, Jared’s brother, and his friends wanted to play speedball one more time. The tournament was also a fundraiser for the Jared Lewis Quirk Scholarship.
The tournament involved ten different teams, made up of high school students, teachers, and alumni. Going into the highly-anticipated event, God’s Children, made up of six RHS seniors and one RHS junior, was the number one seed.
Team NB led by Ryan Quirk, was the other favorite. Team NB was made up of Rockland alumni, two of which are Division II college athletes. Quirk’s team even had a cast of cheerleaders rooting them on in every game.
Parents, friends, and fellow students, filed into the gym all three days of the tournament.
Ms. Walsh said, “We didn’t know if parents, friends, or other students would watch the teams play, but there was a strong turn-out all three days, especially for the championship.”
Each game kept fans and supporters on the edge of their seats the entire time as the gym rocked with cheers. The championship was played on a warm Friday night and the game went until 9 o’clock, yet students stayed in the gym waiting to see which team would be crowned champions.
The top seeds, Team NB and God’s Children, made it to the finals, but each team took a different road to the championship. Team NB had to play a handful of games the final day of the tournament, while God’s Children played a only a handful of games the entire tournament. This is because team NB lost early on and had to power their way through the entire losers’ bracket to reach the finals. God’s Children came into the finals undefeated, suffering their first loss of the season against team NB in the championship. Because the tournament is a two-game elimination, God’s Children and team NB had to battle through another championship game.
The final game went into overtime and then into a shoot-out. After four misses by each team, God’s Children’s Justin Nguyen lasered a kick right by Team NB goaltender Aaron Ryan who had a tremendous tournament. With the championship on the line, Team NB captain Ryan Quirk had the game in his hands. He had to score or the game would be over. The gym was silent as Quirk approached the ball and fans were on the edge of their seats. Quirk kicked the ball just outside of the post and missed the net. God’s Children celebrated in victory, but Team NB took the loss well.
Junior Harrison Shields was overjoyed as his team won the tournament that meant so much to him.
“I feel on top of the world since winning, and overall, life is better as a champion. It’s a great feeling knowing that we’re the greatest team to play the game,” said Shields
Not only did the tournament provide a source of entertainment for fans, it also succeeded in raising funds.
“It was a strong fundraiser for Jared’s scholarship and we raised over $1,800,” said Ms. Walsh, who loved the atmosphere in the gym. “I think the tournament was a blast. Everyone seemed to have so much fun, whether it was the alumni coming back or current students getting competitive.”
The Jared Lewis Quirk Speedball Tournament was a special event held in the town of Rockland. People who never had a desire to watch speedball really enjoyed it. Many people involved with the tournament will remember the event for its action-packed games, quick flashy goals, and tremendous split saves by goalies.
However, everyone will also remember why the tournament was played and the reason why an abundance of people were packed into the gym on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. The town came together to support each other multiple times throughout this past year, but it was truly special that those closest to Jared could play and take part in the Jared Lewis Quirk Speedball Tournament.
Action photos from the tournament were taken by Ryan Palmer, Brianna Starkey and Matt O’Brien.