Over the years, George Schmeider has given a lot to the city of Warwick and its sports community.
Now, that community is doing what it can to give back.
Schmeider, a longtime coach at Warwick Vets, suddenly fell ill at the beginning of August and has been hospitalized since August 6. Doctors diagnosed him with encephalitis, and his prognosis remains unclear.
In an effort to do what they can, friends, family and the dozens of people who have been impacted by Schmeider are rallying. On Saturday, Oct. 13 at City Park, they’ll stage a rag ball tournament, with all proceeds going to help defray medical expenses for the Schmeider family.
Knowing George, his friends feel it’s the least they can do.
Schmeider has been a fixture in Warwick sports for years, from the Oakland Beach Boys & Girls Club and the local adult softball leagues to Gorton High School and Vets, where he’s coached wrestling and football.
At every stop, Schmeider has touched dozens of lives.
“He’d take the shirt off his back for anybody,” said Gary Costantino, a longtime friend and one of the tournament organizers.
Costantino grew up knowing Schmeider, who ran the gym at the Boys & Girls Club and also taught physical education at Oakland Beach Elementary. In high school, Costantino’s father passed away. His older brother was away at college and his mother was in a nursing home. Schmeider took Costantino under his wing.
“He was always making sure I was at school on time and doing the right things,” said Costantino, who went on to play college basketball after a strong career at Vets.
Costantino’s story is unique, but Schmeider’s role in it is not. Whenever a kid needed help, Schmeider was there.
“There are so many stories,” Costantino said.
It’s no surprise that dozens of people have come on board to help. The organizing team for the fundraiser is made up of Costantino, Chuck and Jane Hurst, Deb Colicci, Misty Lourenco, Jason Wendoloski and Kevin Hennessey, as well as Schmeider’s sisters and his son, George, who’s just beginning his senior year at Vets.
Schmeider and several of his friends have been playing rag ball since 2006 and have been hosting a tournament in the fall. Similar to softball, but with a ball made of fabric, the game allows anyone to play and was natural choice for the fundraiser.
Organizers are looking for teams to enter, with a minimum of 10 players per team. The entry fee is $200 per team and all proceeds will go to the Schmeider family.
The teams are guaranteed three games, and the format will include pool play into a single elimination tournament. The tournament will also feature food, live bands and activities for children.
“We’re hoping to make it a night out,” Costantino said.
And they’re hoping to help. In an effort to support Schmeider, they’re taking their lead from the man himself.
“If I was sick or anybody else was sick, George would be the first person going above and beyond,” Costantino said.
To sign up for the tournament call Gary Costantino at 391-9008 or Jane Hurst at 301-0985.
William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and email@example.com.