April 1, 2004 For the eighth year in a row, St. John celebrates Ruby Rutnik's birthday with the annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament.
The first pitch will be thrown at 3 p.m. Friday at the Winston Wells Ballfield next at Julius E. Sprauve School, with the tournament continuing Saturday and wrapping up on Sunday. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.
While the event's stars are girl's high school teams from St. Thomas and St. Croix, it also includes evening games with local men's team.
Antilles School in St. Thomas and Good Hope School, an all-star team from Educational Complex and Central High School, all in St. Croix, have confirmed that they will participate. The schedule was not available on Thursday.
The event is named in honor of Ruby Rutnik, an Antilles School softball legend who died in a car crash in 1996 while attending American University in Washington, D.C. Her birthday is April 9.
The tournament raises scholarship money. Currently, each year two St. John girls heading off for college receive two-year scholarships worth $2,500 a year. For the first time last year, a girl from the winning team also received a scholarship.
Ruby Rutnik's father, Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik, said he hopes that this year the event will raise enough money to create a $100,000 fund. The scholarships will then come from the interest.
"So we can give $5,000 a year," Andrew Rutnik said.
So far, eight girls have received a total of $35,000 worth of scholarships.
The event raises money for the scholarship fund by selling innings at $100 a pop, games at $700 and the sale of t-shirts at $15 each.
The Love City Pan Dragons will raise money for their program by selling refreshments at the concession stand.
This year's tournament promises lots of excitement as the team's vie for top honors. Last year, only two games were played because the rest were rained out. Andrew Rutnik said that Antilles School squeaked by Good Hope School in St. Croix in one of the games.
"Good Hope is coming back for revenge," he said.
When the last umbrella went down after the two games, Good Hope was declared the winner.
Rain also called a halt to the final games in 2002.
To sponsor an inning, a game or make a donation, call the Rutniks at 693-8069, stop by Connections in Cruz Bay or Coral Bay, or mail them to Rutnik, Box 348, St. John VI 00831-0348. Make checks payable to RRSF Inc.
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