Fore 81 Golf Classic: Tournament Still Going Strong
A field of over 200 golfers competing in two separate tournaments invaded the Towanda Country Club on June 24 for the 11th annual Fore 81 Golf Classic.
When the Green (morning) and Gold (afternoon) tournaments wrapped up, the real winners were the recipients of the Bret J. Keefe Scholarship.
The Keefe Scholarship, which honors the Wyalusing Valley athlete and assistant coach who died in an automobile accident in January 2001, provides financial aid to a senior male and female “athletic scholar” at his alma mater.
Through the years, the scholarship has provided $45,000 in aid to 22 Wyalusing graduates for their college expenses.
This year’s recipients, Paul Hugo and Abby Fogel, joined the small army of volunteers who help make the tournament one of the biggest in the area.
Fogel, daughter of Mark and Gina Fogel, plans to major in marketing/advertising at Penn State University this fall.
“I’m really looking forward to the fall,” said Fogel, who was the Salutatorian of the 2011 class.
“When it comes to purchasing books and paying tuition, the scholarship will be a definite help,” she said.
She was a 10-letter winner at Wyalusing during her four-year varsity career, competing in soccer, basketball and track. She played a key role in the Lady Rams’ Northern Tier League Large School championship in track and field.
Besides winning the Keefe Award, the highlight of her senior year came when she was selected as WVHS Female Athlete of the Year.
Fogel’s father and brother have played in the tournament through the years, but as she was working the course with her mother as an observer on No. 4 hole, she was surprised by the effort it takes to put on the event.
“I always knew about the tournament, but I never worked at it,” she said. “It’s nice to have so many volunteers to help today.”
It was also one of the first chances she had to experience the Keefe family’s legendary concern for the award winners.
“There are so many that I have met and they are so kind.”
Hugo, who will also matriculate at Penn State this fall to major in civil engineering, was already aware of the importance of the tournament and the family’s deep involvement with the award winners.
His older brother, Jon, was the 2003 male winner.
“It’s an honor,” said Hugo, son of George and Barbara Hugo.
“During the years, I’ve been here and experienced it. What great people. They are so nice to the award winners.
“Jon still keeps in touch with them.”
It was a busy day for Hugo, who not only volunteered during the morning, but had to rush off to South Williamsport at 1 p.m. to prepare for that night’s District Four All-Star Football Game.
Besides football where he was a rare four-year letterman, Hugo was also a standout in basketball. After trying track as a freshman and sophomore without lettering, Hugo picked up his eighth varsity letter this spring, trying out for the baseball team.
“It was fun,” he said of the baseball experience. “I’m glad I did it.”
On Awards Night, Hugo was named the WVHS Male Athlete of the Year.
“I was really blessed to win all these awards this year,” he said. “It was overwhelming and humbling.”
Jon Hugo, who is employed at Deutsche Bank in New York, has been a generous sponsor of the event since he graduated from college.
Other Gold sponsors who supported this year’s tournament were Gannon Associates; Cargill Regional Beef; Henry Dunn, Inc.; Jan’s Beauty Shoppe; Jack Carr of Keystone College; Chesapeake Energy; Peoples State Bank; Parrot Graphics; Bridge GAP; Steve Schannauer of Rexnord; McTish, Kunkel & Associates; New Albany Elementary and the Wyalusing Hotel.
Brian Keefe, Bret’s brother, remains amazed by the support the community gives to the tournament and the fund.
“If we lose one sponsor, we seem to pick up two or three more,” he said.
Individuals who also made cash donations were Kevin and Helen Ferris, Rosamond Keefe, Todd and Natalie Salsman, Ray and Mary Ann Raffin, Linc and Lynn Welles and Christa Phillips.
There were also many businesses that provided donations and prizes for the golfers, responding to the efforts of Reta Manley of Fine Line Homes and Kathy Fisk of Henry Dunn Inc., who solicited their support.
Keefe wanted to extend a special thanks to the students at New Albany Elementary.
The school, first under the support of teacher Mike Fox, and recently behind the guidance of Bill Lutz and Katrina McMahon, has been very generous in its support of the fund.
This year, in its final year of existence, New Albany came up big with the students and staff donating $600 to the fund.