UVA Law's 32nd Softball Invitational Brings 1,700 Law Students Together for Charity

UVA Law Men's Gold

Men's Gold won the championship Sunday at the annual North Grounds Softball League Invitational.

Posted April 13, 2015

UVA Law students brought more than 120 teams together to play softball and raise $20,000 for the local charity ReadyKids this weekend.

The 32nd annual North Grounds Softball League Invitational, which attracted 1,700 students from 60 law schools across the country, is a three-day feat of organization that takes over fields across Charlottesville. On Sunday, after a round of NCAA-style bracketed play, Men's Gold defeated Florida State to win the championship 14-5, boosted by third-year law student Evan Guimond's two home runs. Co-Rec Gold was runner-up in a field of 89 teams after being bested by the Regent Blue team 7-6.

"We've got some great hitters on all the teams, and you know softball is kind of a game — just like baseball — it lands a different way a different day," said NGSL commissioner David Martin, a third-year law student and co-captain of the Men's Gold team. "That's what makes it fun for the teams down here. Anyone can win on any given day."

Rain on Friday made a couple fields unusable, so it required some juggling to try to ensure that all teams played three games, a goal for the tournament runners.

"Teams are coming from 10, 12, 14 hours away, so it's only fair to do whatever we can given the weather," Martin said. "Some heroic efforts by the grounds crew and the umpires helped us out. It's kind of all-hands-on-deck when it rains like it did."

The rain didn't stop Co-Rec Gold from scoring 35 runs on Friday in their first game, which they won 35-0. The number of runs in the first game matters for seeding, so the team didn’t hold back, said third-year law student Taylor Steffan, who played catcher.

"We got this new bat for the tournament this year, and it is magic," Steffan said after the game. "We're all very attached to it."

Co-Rec Gold
The Co-Rec Gold team finished second in its division.

As seriously as the students take the games, Martin said, the players mingle and enjoy camaraderie with teams who have journeyed from as far away as Florida.

"Ten times as much fun is had off the field here," Martin said.

The invitational has been donating proceeds from the invitational for 15 years to ReadyKids, formerly called Children, Youth and Family Services, one of the oldest nonprofits in Charlottesville. The nonprofit, which started in 1921, provides early learning education services and counseling to disadvantaged or at-risk children. UVA Law students have raised more than $250,000 for the charity over the years, according to Allison Henderson, ReadyKids' director of philanthropy.

1L Harry Marino Brings Minor League Experience to NGSL

First-year law student Harry Marino pitched in minor league baseball for three years before coming to law school, but he hadn't picked up a bat since ninth grade.

"When I made the varsity high school team, they said 'You're going to be a pitcher now, you're pretty good,' and I dropped the bat then," said Marino, who relied on designated hitters.

He picked up the bat again in the fall as a law student and played right center field for the champion Men's Gold team.

Though Marino intended to head to law school right after graduating from Williams College, he jumped at a chance to play with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles organizations before being an independent player on minor league teams in Canada and Illinois for a year.

"It was a great opportunity for three years, but I knew I was heading to law school, and I'm glad to be here now," he said.

Marino, whose pitching speed tops out in the low 90s, didn't throw any of his specialty sliders at the NGSL invitational, which features underhanded pitching. (Third-year law student and NGSL commissioner David Martin took on pitching duties.)

"It's a good time to get out here and play with friends," Marino said of his return to the field at Virginia. "It's nice to do something athletic that's not as serious as what I'm used to in the past."

Marino, who will be working in the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York this summer, said his fellow students occasionally ask him about his past.

"One of the great things about UVA Law School is people come from a lot of different backgrounds," he said. "People have done a lot of cool things since college, and this is just one of them."

 
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