Three times TopHand leaders scheduled their seventh annual golf tournament. Three times the weather did not cooperate as rainfall drenched the Emporia Country Club golf course. The fourth try was the charm.
Clear skies and warm temperatures graced Emporia Friday, and 56 players hit the course for 18 holes of golf. TopHand owner Rusting Jessee could only smile as the golfers climbed into their carts and headed to their positions for the 1 p.m. shotgun start.
“I’m very grateful we got a beautiful day for it,” Jessee said. “We ended up with 14 teams. It’s fewer than the 26 we had signed up before the first rainout, but I appreciate the guys sticking with us and coming out today. All 14 teams were on the original list to play.”
TopHand Foundation is known for its youth baseball and softball programs. Still, there is more the growing organization has to offer. Gymnastics is a part of the athletic regimen for youth. The community outreach portion of TopHand serves children in need. Assistance in virtual learning is a sizeable TopHand role as most local students remain in a ‘virtual learning phase only’ during the pandemic.
Since June 18, TopHand baseball and softball teams have been in travel-mode for weekend tournaments. Trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, are favorite destinations for TopHand youth.
On Friday, ball players participating in TopHand programs graced the Emporia Country Club course to assist in the golf tournament.
Noah Hilton, Elijah Crowder, and Berkley Wright play for TopHand travel baseball teams. On Friday, they handled a hole on the course, assisting with a throw-in game to help golfers. For drives failing to reach the green, the players rotated turns with a roll of the ball on the green.
It was their chance to help the golfers, who, in turn, help them enjoy their dream of playing baseball for TopHand.
Hilton plays for the TopHand U14 Reds. The extra baseball has made him a better player, but the program brings more to the table than baseball.
“It’s been fun hanging out with the other kids and the coaches Elliott (Sadler), Rustin and Randy (Jessee),” Hilton said. “The baseball is great too. We’ve won most of our games.”
Recent rains postponed the golf tournament three times before it was played. Wet weather has delayed a lot of TopHand baseball in recent weeks. Still, the players have played plenty of baseball games in the past four months.
“I’ve played a lot of games,” Wright said. “I’m not sure how many, but every game that hasn’t been canceled. It’s helped me become a better baseball player.”
Wright plays for the TopHand Reds U11 baseball team.
More than 400 youth participate in the TopHand program. At a time when the pandemic has taken away many opportunities for growth for Emporia-Greensville and surrounding area youth, TopHand has delivered to fill the void.
On Friday, 56 golfers, sponsors, and volunteers did their part to make sure TopHand continues offering a venue to support children at a critical time during a pandemic.