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July 22, 2009 > Papa Del well remembered in Union City tournament

Papa Del well remembered in Union City tournament

By Jeff Weisinger

For over 15 years, Del "Papa Del" Soderholm was a staple for Union City girls softball.

He coached all four of his granddaughters - Monica, Jessica, Adriana and Alyssa - and even had a chance to help out his great-granddaughter Mariisa in her first year of t-ball.

"Papa was always the first to offer to take me to the batting cages to help improve my swing," said Jessica Soderholm, Papa Del's 21-year-old granddaughter whom Papa Del coached from t-ball through her Ohlone career.

He was also the only person allowed on Logan softball coach Teri Johnson's softball field. Johnson even made him the official team photographer.

"Johnson would only allow him on the fields while we played, which is big because she's very territorial," explained Jessica.

However, Soderholm succumbed to a two-year battle with cancer on February 24 this year. Despite his memorial service being standing room only, filled with past players and their families, the Soderholms, along with the Union City Girls Softball Association (UCGSA) came up with one more way to honor a man that meant just about everything to not just the Soderholm family, but also the Union City girls softball community

With a summer tournament planned, UCGSA treasurer Shannon Soderholm decided to make the "Del Soderholm Memorial Softball Tournament" that summer tournament. And they intend to make this an annual tournament.

"Since Papa was so influential in the league, we had no problem naming this after him," Jessica added.

It was held last weekend with 14 teams from all over Northern California playing the games at Contempo Park and James Logan High School on Saturday, July 18, with Sunday's, July 19, games played only at Logan.

Many of Papa Del's past players came to watch and help out with the tournament throughout the weekend.

"I think the tournament was the best we could have hope for," Jessica said. "Our goal was to keep Papa's legacy alive, and with this tournament we were able to do that."

Adriana, 11, played in the inaugural tournament for Union City, pitching in three of their five games with Union City placing third overall in the tournament in the 12 and under division behind Oakland Vipers and the champion Almaden Lightning. The Oakland Vipers also won the 10 and under division.

"It's so hard to try and encompass Papa Del into words," Jessica said. "He wasn't just mine and my cousins Papa Del, he was everyone's Papa Del."

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