Former University of Oregon and NBA player Luke Jackson is among eight pro athletes who will join Rogue Valley police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
Celebrity athletes from the worlds of basketball, football, boxing, bowling, skateboarding and car racing are joining up with local police to fight for a good cause.
They’ll divide into two softball teams — with four pro athletes joining police officers on each team — and battle each other during the Celebrity All-Star Classic “Battle of the Badges” Softball Game at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Harry & David Field, 2929 S. Pacific Highway, Medford.
The game is part of the third annual Strong & Courageous Recovery Festival that starts at 10 a.m. that Saturday. The festival celebrates living addiction-free and also is a fundraiser for Restoring Our Community Recovery Center and Impact Athletics youth programs.
“There are so many struggles that young people are facing these days,” said Luke Jackson, a standout University of Oregon basketball player who went on to play eight seasons in the NBA.
Unlike some of the pro athletes taking the field for the softball game, Jackson has past experience with baseball.
“I played baseball in high school. I was a pretty good baseball player,” he said. “I do have some physical limitations due to some of the surgeries that I’ve had from being a professional athlete. But I’m going to show up and do the best that I can.”
Jackson said the game is for a good cause, but he still expects the athletes and police to put up a fight. He said he’s seen quite a few outstanding police and firefighter softball teams that take the game very seriously.
“Most professional athletes, whether they can admit it or not, do have an inner competitive side that tends to come out in competition. But I think the spirit of the game is really about bringing the community together to raise awareness and support the most vulnerable who need care,” Jackson said.
Doug Gould, executive director of ROC Recovery Center, said the center has solid support programs for adults, but its youth program isn’t as strong. With so many of today’s teens facing mental health or addiction issues, he wants to strengthen the center’s youth program.
Past recovery festivals have been family-friendly events, but focused more on adults.
“I just thought, ‘You know what? Let’s gear this toward youth,’” Gould said of this year’s festival.
The ball really started rolling when Gould was out of his office one day and got a text from a co-worker saying, “You’ve got two very large men standing here in your office.”
The two turned out to be Jackson and E.J. Singler, who led South Medford High School to a state basketball championship and played professionally in America and Europe. Both tower well over 6 feet.
Former South Medford High School, University of Oregon and NBA player E.J. Singler will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
The basketball duo wanted to help the ROC Recovery Center with fundraising, and Jackson suggested a celebrity athlete event.
Other current and retired professional athletes soon joined the effort, including basketball player Kyle Singler, football player Chad Cota, boxer Mike Wilson, bowler Marshal Hollman, race car driver Derek DeBoer and freestyle skateboarder Tim Byrne.
Former South Medford High School, Duke University and NBA player Kyle Singler will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. File photo
They’ll partner with officers from Medford and Central Point police departments.
Professional boxer Mike Wilson will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
Gould said the game will be entertaining, with some possible bloopers. Some of the pro athletes, such as the bowler and the skateboarder, don’t play softball.
Former Ashland High School, University of Oregon and NFL football player Chad Cota will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
“Let’s have a good time, let’s show people that recovery is possible and let’s raise some funding so we can provide services,” Gould said.
Race car driver Derek DeBoer will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
Jackson said the whole festival brings together police, who often see the harm drugs cause in the community, with people in recovery from addiction. He hopes together they can help raise awareness and steer young people away from drugs.
Former PBA bowler Marshal Hollman will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
“There’s a whole better way out there. Go enjoy your life without making those decisions,” Jackson said.
Skateboarder Tim Byrne will join athletes and police for a charity softball game Oct. 15. [File photo]
The schedule of events includes:
- 10 a.m. — The festival opens. Local agencies will have information available about services for addiction and mental health issues.
- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Kids Family Fun Carnival with tickets on sale at the festival
- 12-3 p.m. — Youth up to age 18 can meet the pro athletes and learn sports skills. Tickets are available at the festival.
- 1-2 p.m. — Byrne, the pro skateboarder, will perform a free special presentation.
- 3 p.m. — The carnival and ballpark close to prepare the field for the softball game.
- 5 p.m. — Gates open to ticket holders for the 2022 Celebrity All-Star Classic “Battle of the Badges” Softball Game between Central Point police and Medford police, with four professional athletes on each police team. Tickets cost $6-10 and can be purchased at the festival or in advance by visiting rocrecoverycenter.org.
- 5:30 p.m. — Opening ceremonies
- 6:15 p.m. — The game begins
The ROC Recovery Center is a faith-based group with a mission to meet the needs of those struggling with addiction behavior, mental illness, domestic violence, homelessness or emotional trauma in Southern Oregon. For more information, see rocrecoverycenter.org or call 541-200-3000.
The center is located inside Grace Point Fellowship, 213 S. Fir St., Medford.
Impact Athletics is a faith-based group that provides sports opportunities and mentoring for youth. For more information, see soimpactathletics.com.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.