Elkers presented with golf tournament check

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Greg Johnson of Laurel Mill Golf Course presented Elkers head football coach Mark Heindl with a check for $3,280 raised at the Annual Elkers Football Golf Tournament at the course on June 25.

The money raised will help fund the Ridgway football program that has won four-straight District 9 championships. The event is usually held Memorial Day weekend but was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heindl said the program did not solicit outside funding for this year’s event knowing things were a bit tough financially due to COVID. He praised the efforts of Johnson, George Saline, Tracy Dickant, and all connected with Laurel Mill for making the tournament a success. Eighteen, four-man teams competed.

“We knew with fundraising it was tough with the situation we’re in. Craig, George, Tracy, and everyone involved took it upon themselves to run the tournament and donated all the proceeds to the football program,” he said.

The football coach was also impressed with how the community once again came through to help. “It’s awesome. We talk about the program and the program is more than football on Friday nights. The whole community gets involved both on and off the field. It’s a big testament to our fans for what they are able to do for us,” Heindl said.

Johnson was more than happy to help. “We were honored to support the Ridgway football team this year. With the pandemic going on we had to do things a little different with social distancing and with the food being served,” he said. “Ridgway always steps up to support local organizations. I want to thank all the people who helped out,” he added.

The food was donated by Elk County Foods. Owner Steve Cleveland was glad to once again participate. “We’ve done it every year and we sure were going to do it this year,” he said. “You realize that through the years so many of the kids that played for the Elkers worked for us. It’s been fun to watch Mark build the program and then when you combine Ridgway and Johnsonburg with both of our stores they became a bigger part of who we are. We’re always glad to participate,” he added.

Cleveland hopes to see the athletes on the field soon. On Aug. 7 the PIAA decided to delay the start of practice by two weeks. The Elkers are set to begin the mandated Heat Acclimatization Week next Monday with the rest of the sports of soccer, volleyball, golf, girls’ tennis, and cross country set to start official practice Aug. 31.

“We’re pushing for the kids to have a chance to play. It would be a shame for a fifth straight championship to be stopped by COVID,” he said. Elk County Foods has been a leader in following the safety protocol during the pandemic.

As for the football program itself, Heindl hopes things go according to plans and the team can officially begin practice Aug. 24. He’s pleased with how workouts are going.

“We’re averaging about 40 players every voluntary workout which says a lot about the kids and their determination and drive to keep the program strong,” he said.

Heindl also thanked Ed Gerg of Gerg insurance for his donation to the tournament.