SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Better late than never! The 40th annual Chance Crawford Benefit Softball Tournament — which was originally was scheduled for April 2020 — welcomed thousands of softball enthusiasts back to Virginia’s Blue Ridge region this weekend for excellent competition and some wonderful weather.
“We were deeply saddened to cancel last year because this event does so much to help those in need,” said Scott Scharnus, Chance Crawford Tournament Director. “To return to some normalcy this past weekend and see all of these folks competing for a great cause is a testament to the tournament’s reputation and our great staff.”
In 39 years, the tournament — which is put on by the cities of Salem and Roanoke and Roanoke County — has taken in more than $800,000 for individuals with health problems, deserving college students who need financial assistance, and youth sports throughout the Roanoke Valley.
“This year, 157 squads from 9 different states fielded teams in the tournament’s 6 different divisions. More than 3,500 players, coaches, umpires, and officials spent a total of 1,610 hotel room nights in the valley,” the City of Salem said in a statement on Tuesday, April 20. “Hotels and motels in Salem, Roanoke and Roanoke County benefited, with participants staying in over 30 different establishments.”
“Completely cancelling last year’s tournament was the last thing we wanted to do, so we put a lot of extra effort into this year’s event,” said John Shaner, Salem Parks and Recreation Director. “The tournament attracted 59 out-of-state teams and we trust that many area businesses benefitted from their presence and participation.”
Since the Botetourt Sports Complex is still closed, the City of Salem says the tournament had to be staged without four of the diamonds it normally uses, which means games were played around the clock Friday and Saturday nights in order to complete the entire tournament by Sunday evening.
“The staff at the Moyer Complex just did an incredible job of pulling-off this event for all involved,” Eric O’Brien, Salem Parks and Recreation Assistant Director, said. “This was very important for Chance’s foundation.”
The Chance Crawford Softball Tournament reportedly began in the spring of 1981 to help raise money for Salem High School quarterback Chance Crawford — who suffered a spinal cord injury during a football game — to cover education, physical therapy, and other medical costs.
After Crawford graduated from college, officials say he was elected Clerk of Court for Salem and the Chance Crawford Tournament Committee decided to continue the tournament in his honor, but use the tournament proceeds to help community members in need with their own medical and education expenses.