Tourney to be held in coach's memory

CONYERS - Students and friends of former Rockdale County teacher and coach Jeff Blount, who lost his battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in September, know he's going to be watching them next week.

To help raise money for the Jeff Blount Memorial Fund, some area coaches and friends of Blount are organizing a special summer league baseball tournament.

From June 11 through 14, more than 40 baseball teams from metro Atlanta will come together in Newton, Rockdale, Gwinnett and Walton counties to play for the Jeff Blount Memorial Tournament.

"Jeff was really enthusiastic about summer league baseball, and it's a good way to raise money," said David Bell, who coached with Blount at Rockdale County High School. "It was the first thing that popped into my mind (for a fundraiser). He was always enthusiastic about coaching baseball and doing things for the kids."

Bell approached his friend Rick Howard, who is the head baseball coach at Brookwood High School in Snellville and was a former teammate of Blount's on the football team at RCHS in the late 1980s, for help with organizing the tournament.

Howard started with a goal of gathering about 20 teams to play a tournament for a few days this summer. He was able to collect 42 teams as of Wednesday with possibly more to join in later. Teams come mostly from the east metro Atlanta area - in Henry, Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties.

"Jeff had a big heart, and we want to be able to give back to his family," Howard said.

Each team, which paid an entry fee to play, is guaranteed four games each, which will be played at six sites - Salem and Rockdale County high schools in Conyers, Newton High School in Covington, Loganville High School in Loganville, George Walton Academy in Monroe and Brookwood High School in Snellville.

"It's basically a round-robin tournament and there is no declared winner," Howard said. "It's a good way to get the kids out there to play."

The schedule isn't complete yet, but the teams plan to play three games on June 11 starting at 2:30 p.m., four games on June 12 starting at noon, five games on June 12 starting at 9 a.m. and three games on June 14 starting at 1 p.m. Each game will have a two-hour time limit. A full schedule with event times and locations will be announced on www.broncobaseball.org when it becomes available before the tournament starts.

The cost per day for admission to the games is $4 for adults and $2 for students. Admission is free for senior citizens.

Howard said he hopes to continue this fundraiser in the future.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Jeff Blount Memorial Baseball Tournament

· When: June 11-14

· Where: Various fields - Rockdale County High School, Salem High School, Newton High School, Loganville High School, George Walton Academy in Monroe, Brookwood High School in Snellville

· Cost Per Day: $4 for adults, $2 for students, free for senior citizens

· More Information: A complete schedule will be available on www.broncobaseball.org.