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Coach’s Challenge golf tournament to benefit Belchertown High School athletics

Marilyn Higgins didn’t coach golf, but she certainly enjoyed playing with her friends.

On Saturday, Higgins’ family and friends will play in her memory when the first annual Coach’s Challenge tournament tees off at Cold Spring Country Club in Belchertown.

The tournament was created to raise money for The Coach’s Fund, which provides financial support for Belchertown High School sports teams and athletes.

The fund was established in memory of Higgins, who taught and coached in the Belchertown school system for over 25 years. Higgins died in January 2012 following a battle with plasma cell leukemia.

Higgins taught physical education and coached high school boys tennis, girls soccer and softball during her career. She coached the tennis team to its first Western Massachusetts Tournament title in 2011.

“We felt we need to do something,” said Kate Higgins-Shea, Higgins’ daughter-in-law and the tournament coordinator. “My mother coached in Belchertown for years and years and we estimated she coached over 40 seasons in various sports. We wanted to figure out a way to continue to support the high school and athletic teams because that was near and dear to her heart.”

The tournament, which starts at 11 a.m., has a full field of 144 players. “We’re excited and the weather looks good,” Higgins-Shea said.

As an attorney for Lyon & Fitzpatrick in Holyoke, Higgins-Shea had been involved in golf tournaments before. And while Higgins never coached golf, she enjoyed playing recreationally.

“I remember as a kid after school going to the old town hall and watching her coach high school girls basketball. She was all 5 feet tall and she was coaching basketball,” Higgins-Shea said. “During her summer break she would spend a couple days a week on the golf course with her buddies.”

Higgins-Shea, her husband Chris, her father-in-law Christopher, and Belchertown track coach and teacher Matt Baker started planning for the event six months ago. Their goal is to raise funds so the Belchertown athletic department can cover expenses outside of the school budget. A full field and 40 tee sponsors is a good start.

“We’re all wowed, awestruck at the support we got,” Higgins-Shea said. “We’ve had groups of families sponsor holes. It’s been tremendous and we’re hopeful we’ll hand over a chunk of money to the athletic department.”

Tickets can still be purchased for the dinner, which starts at 6 p.m. at the country club. Tickets are $30. Visit www.coacheschallenge.weebly.com or email coacheschallenge@gmail.com for more information.

18th ANNUAL GHO — The Greater Hatfield Open will be held July 21 at The Country Club of Greenfield.

All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Smith Academy golf team.

Fee is $70 per player and includes greens fees, carts, prizes and dinner. Sponsorships of tees and greens are available for $50 each.

The four-person or five-person scramble will start at 1 p.m.

For more information, contact David Keir at 247-3041 or 588-1915.

Deadline to enter is July 15.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.

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