DANVILLE — “We play rain or shine, this is football weather,” said Jim Sorgi, former Colts quarterback, commenting on the weather this past Saturday morning. “Football was a big part of my life so I figured ‘why don’t I get a couple of guys I played with to come out and play the game that we all enjoy playing?’”
The inaugural Indiana Hurricanes Celebrity Flag Football Tournament took place this past Saturday at the Danville Youth Football Fields behind Ellis Park in Danville. The fundraiser, organized by Sorgi and his wife Lana, is to help support the Indy Hurricanes 8U traveling baseball team that Sorgi’s son plays on.
The morning started with some rain and cold weather, but the reason for everyone to be there made the day worthwhile.
“It’s expensive to play travel baseball,” Sorgi said. “The coaches and wives came together and decided to do one big fundraiser instead of trying to do a bunch of small fundraisers. We knocked it out with one swoop and I think we’ve succeeded with much collective effort.”
The Indiana Hurricanes 8U baseball team plays off of 21st Street on Girls School Road, right behind the Ben Davis fields. But the team travels all over, with four or five tournaments being out of state. Between the equipment, the travel to and from, hotels and the tournaments, the coaches want to take the burden off of the parents in any way they can.
To create a flag football team, players had to be 18 or older, have around 10 players on the team, and contribute the entry fee of $300, which included a cinch bag, T-shirt and other items.
Brett Clark got some friends together to make a team for the fundraiser.
“We thought we’d come out and support them,” Clark said. “This is a lot of fun. It’s a great day for football.”
There were 16 teams at the event. Organizers said more teams wanted to sign up, but there was not enough room for everyone. There were about four games going on at a time, with each game being about 45 to 50 minutes long.
“This event is the most fulfilling thing, once you see the guys out there playing and having fun,” Sorgi said. “If you lose, you lose. If you win, you win. It’s just a time to have fun.”
The event included former Colts players Gary Brackett, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Eric Foster, Marlin Jackson, Justin Snow, Hunter Smith, John Standeford, Joe Staysniak and David Thornton, as well as former Indiana Pacers player Fred Jones who not only signed autographs but either played, coached or served as captain on every team that signed up.
There was a raffle that included sports memorabilia including Colts jerseys autographed by Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, a Tony Dungy autograph collection, Colts tickets, gift baskets, and more.
Visit Hendricks County also helped support the event Saturday.
“One of the markets that we support is the sports market and this is an opportunity for us to get involved with a local sports team — the Hurricanes,” said Becky Harris, director of sales at Visit Hendricks County. “We’re trying to work with local groups to support what they’re doing. This is promoting our county and promoting the venues here.”
The family event was free and open to the public, but Sorgi said there were challenges getting it together.
“From getting the raffle items signed by the guys, to getting the tents set up, getting the field painted, getting the former Colts out here, getting sponsors and signs, food, this was definitely a challenge in the two and a half months of planning,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great people help us; a lot of businesses and Hendricks County came out and supported us. It’s one of those things where it was hard, but at the same time it was easy.”
Sorgi said he’s not sure whether they will make this an annual event, but if they do, he said they’ll start planning a bit earlier.
“If we do make it an annual event, we have to start planning it like next week,” he said. “It takes a long time, but we’ll see.”
The Indiana Hurricanes Baseball Organization was founded in 2010 and includes teams for children ages 8 through 16 on the west side of Indianapolis. Sorgi estimates that the league and its families, who are mostly from Hendricks County and western Marion County, have to raise at least $900 a player annually to fund the travel, equipment, tournament fees and other expenses.
For more information about the event, visit the website at www.HurricaneFundraiser.com.