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Six teams compete for tournament title

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Six teams turned up for the sixth annual Samantha Pickering volleyball tournament Saturday on the municipal park's triple courts. The weather was cool and overcast, perfect for the teams of three and four players.

One of the teams came from as far away as the Boston area. Alan Imlach's brother, James and his family were up visiting and put together a team for the tournament.

The event each year is organized by Samantha's mother Patti and her stepfather Alan and by many friends and family members. In the first five years over $14,000 was raised which provides a $500 scholarship to a college bound high school senior pursuing a career in athletics or education, as Samantha did.

Lindsay Maroun, the first scholarship winner, is now employed at the Tupper Lake Central School.

The family's goal is to do the event for ten years and raise about $20,000 to make the annual scholarships self-sustaining. The goal is clearly on track.

Familiar faces from past years were Rit Roberge, who did much of the tournament game arrangements, Gary Casagrain and Scott LaLonde, who hasn't been able to play for several years due to an illness but who has been involved every year. Scott coached Sam for many years she was in high school and college.

Every team plays each other once and the winners move up the division until a champion is crowned. It makes for a lot of play for participants.

Casagrain Studio, anchored by artist Gary, won the event this year and second place was Bookstore Plus. Team Al (for Imlach) took third. Other teams were Boston's J. Mike and TL Varsity.

This year featured a trio from the high school volleyball team who were Sierra LaVallee, London Tyo and Elaina Daniels.

The Lions food rig was on site and staffed by Samantha's grandparents, Trudy and LeRoy Pickering. All Lions sales amounting to over $300 were donated that day to Sam's scholarship.

Samantha Pickering was a star volleyball player in both high school and college at Potsdam, where she was captain of her team and its major force. A statue of Sam stands in the college's athletic department and her No. 4 number was retired after her untimely death about six years ago.