Bayside’s softball season may have ended in a heartbreaking loss to Tottenville in the semifinal earlier this month, but the Commodores have learned from Coach Steve Piorkowski that life is about more than wins and losses.
So the Bayside softball community came together Saturday to support Piorkowski. Past and present Commodores raised $2,342 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation by playing its first annual alumni games at the Bayside Athletic Complex. The money was raised through a raffle, a $5 admission fee and cash donations.
Piorowski, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and has been fighting to keep it in remission, was thrilled with the success of the event.
“We got kids coming back who graduated in the year 2000 all the way to 2014,” Piorkowski said.
The tournament was broken up into three different teams, 2000-04, 2005-09 and 2010-14. The three squads played hour-long games against each other for fun and bragging rights.
Mariel Perez, a 2008 alumnae, enjoyed coming back and interacting with her former teammates.
“It’s been really nice seeing everyone years after, still capable of playing because it’s for our coach,” she said. “It is a really special thing. We are trying to support him.”
Unlike her classmate, former star Nicole Marra didn’t find returning to the sport after years off as easy, but came back because of the impact Piorkowski made in her life.
“They say it is like riding a bike, but I don’t think so,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him. I wouldn’t have graduated high school. He did it all for me. It’s given me a lot of skill, leadership and taught me to take criticism a better way.”
Present Bayside players also participated to support their coach. With help from Piorkowski, senior catcher Taylor Moy developed from a freshman into a key player on a semifinal team.
“He took a group of seven or eight freshmen and brought us to the semifinals,” she said. “Our game was the best game against Tottenville.”
The event highlighted the tight-knit community of Bayside softball players and alums that has flourished because of Piorkowski. And next year’s game is already in the works with the possibility of inviting Cardozo alumni.
The turnout and the day left Piorkowski searching for a way to express what the event meant to him.
“It is a wonderful reciprocal relationship that we have had,” Piorkowski said. “They depend on me and I depend on them. The Bayside uniform means so much to the current players, and they will honor the success of the past and try hard to live up to what these young ladies have done. They found out I was sick, and we were going to do this and they came back to play. It’s humbling.”
©2014 Community News Group
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