COMMENTARY: 'It takes a village' for Ron Mathias Tournament

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Ron Mathias Field
Chapin Jewell

KEYSER - Over the weekend, the Mathias family and those associated with Keyser softball once again pulled off a tremendously successful Ron Mathias Memorial Tournament. The annual event honors the memory of Ron Mathias and all he did for Keyser softball, but also serves to provide the KHS softball players and the guest teams brought in a special chance at making memories.

The event has certainly made a name for itself as one of the top high school sporting events in the region, if not state, and of course is made possible by a countless stream of volunteers who pour hours upon hours into making this special event so successful.

While always a special weekend, this year’s version of the Ron Mathias Memorial Tournament was made extra special considering that the event, like most everything high school sports related, was cancelled last year due to COVID. So, people were extra excited and anxious to get back to familiarity of those things we love, this tournament included.

It also didn’t hurt that host Keyser not only one the event, but more particularly won it in thrilling fashion with a come from behind, 6-4 victory over a very talented Bishop Walsh squad looking to make a name for themselves.

But, it’s not about wins and losses, it’s about a family, a program, and a community that works together so extensively to honor the memory of Ron Mathias and provide wonderful softball memories for local girls.

In a post on social media, Dr. Ronna Mathias Monseau, Ron’s daughter, praised the efforts of those involved in hosting the tournament, “Our family appreciates all the efforts and dedication from everyone to make this tournament awesome and for honoring our dad.”

According to Mathias, “The Keyser softball family is truly amazing. Everyone pitches in and helps with everything. Jill Black’s daughter graduated years ago, yet she made the treat bags for the players, made food, and worked the concession stand all day both days.”

“I am certain my dad looks down with a huge smile when he sees how beautiful the field looks. Chris Shoemaker and his coaches work so hard to always make it look perfect and add amazing upgrades. Justin Foutz makes the outfield look professional with his mowing and aeration,” Ronna explained.

Keyser coach Chris Shoemaker joins Dr. Ronna in speaking to the hard work, dedication and community effort provided by countless volunteers to make the tournament, and really the KHS softball program, so successful.

“The tournament was a great success. I think all the teams enjoyed it and the atmosphere. Of course, the Mathias family, Carol, Ronna and Michelle Anderson are huge supporters. Ronna goes above and beyond to ensure we have everything we need to host the tournament and provides gifts for all the players,” Shoemaker explained.

“Jill Blacka, Meredith Idleman, and their aides made personalized gift bags for each player. Jill, Meredith, and Eric Mills prepared the concession stand and worked it all weekend,” Shoemaker stated. “Our parents and softball families as always and stepped up and helped get things ready by cleaning up around the field and provided refreshments for the team, coaches and guests.”

The centerpiece of the event is the field, as top notch a field and facility as you’ll find in high school softball in the Mountain State. The pristine condition of the field is not happenstance, to look perfect, it takes a great deal of tending to.

According to Shoemaker, “Matt Everline, Colton Jones, Greg Pratt and D.J. Anderson started early in the morning and stayed late at night working on both KHS and PSC’s fields to make sure they were in great shape for every game. Special thanks to Craig Rotruck for letting us use Potomac State’s field for several of our games.”

Adding to the hospitality, the gifts, and the pristine condition of the environs is the atmosphere. An atmosphere made possible by volunteers in the press box that announce the game, play walk-up music for the players, and music between innings and such.

“Marie Del Signore announced all games at KHS and a host of people worked the scoreboard,” Shoemaker explained.

This year, the tournament, as always, was indeed a great success. It just seemed as if this year as much as any year, support for the tournament and the program rolled in not just for the usual list of suspects, those associated with the program, but also the community at large.

According to Shoemaker, “Lastly, we’re thankful for the community coming out. We had great crowds both days, especially during the KHS Friday 8:00 game and the Saturday championship game. I’d say many people came out to support the legacy Ron Mathias left on Keyser softball and to carry on his love for the game and the field for the girls who play it.”

In the movie Field of Dreams, there’s that famous quote, “If you build it, they will come.” Ron Mathias, with help from his friends, built it.  All these years later, honoring the legacy of the man that built it, and those over the years like Chris Shoemaker and his crew who maintain it, they keep coming.