The Abaco Softball Association (ASA), all Abaco men’s softball teams, and the community of North Abaco came together to celebrate the life of James Pritchard at a Memorial Softball Tournament on Jan. 2. JR, as he was affectionately called, was player #14 on the Simple Solution Sharks men’s softball team.
The 20-year-old perished while at sea on Dec. 19, 2014.
Sophia Thompson, moderator, commended those who had gathered for taking part in the memorial tournament at Baker’s Field in Cooper’s Town.
“Let us celebrate his life because he was a very fun-filled person, full of life, and we’re going to miss him,” she reflected. “If he was here, he would have the biggest smile on his face, and he would have made every one of us laugh here tonight. So let’s remember him with laughter and joy in our hearts.”
Following the opening prayer by Pastor Cedric Bullard, S.C. Bootle’s Class of 2013 led in the moment of silence and releasing of balloons in his memory. His classmate Savannah Cooper expressed losing the greatest friend (Jamesy) that she had ever come to meet because he was a “source of happiness, laughter, great hugs and true, unconditional love.”
Sharks player Prince Bodie struggled to contain his composure as he gave a tearful tribute. He spoke about what an asset JR had been to the team in their pursuit of making it to the 2014 championships despite challenges they had faced.
“JR was one of the heroes on our team,” Bodie said. “As we were playing in the playoff round, JR told me that he would take the team on his back, and he would carry the team to championship. Jr did that; he fought hard and he was always the one to help the team when I needed him.
He continued: “We don’t know how we’re going to make it but through the help of God and the help of others we will push our way through. As the season comes up, we will play this season just for JR, and we will fight our hardest fight to make it to the top to bring back championship to honour JR.”
Laura Albury, ASA treasurer, expressed condolences on behalf of ASA President Haziel McDonald and the other members. As she manned the gate, Albury said JR would be among the first players to arrive early for their game.
“I will always remember him for giving his heart at the game as Prince said – he left everything on the field when he played a game,” she observed. “Prince do this upcoming year for JR, and we will remember him this way at the field.”
A double header was scheduled at the close of the ceremony. The first game to take place was between Creter’s Bulldogs and the Sharks. The Sharks participated again in the final game of the night against the Hope Town Wreckers.