Pickleball tournament in Northborough raises funds for mental health


Pickleball tournament in Northborough raises funds for mental health
Pickleball players gathered at Ellsworth McAfee for the Jacob Rogers Memorial Pickleball Tournament. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – Pickleball enthusiasts filled the courts at Ellsworth McAfee to raise money to support youth mental health.

The first annual Jacob Rogers Memorial Pickleball Tournament was held May 13. It raised over $16,000 to benefit the Shine Initiative of Worcester.

“The spirit of this is about mental health for our youth,” said organizer Suzanne Cox.

According to Cox and Ann Marie Rogers, the tournament sold out in 24 hours.

The tournament was in honor of Rogers’ son, Jacob, who graduated from Shrewsbury High School in 2020.

He died by suicide in 2022 after struggling with illness. In a press release, Jacob was remembered for his “silly laugh, the twinkle in his eye, his big appetite and his deep love for animals.”

“His family has turned its grief of his loss into a drive to educate the younger population that it is OK to talk about their mental health struggles and that they are not alone,” the release reads.

The tournament organizers partnered with Be Well Northborough to make it a reality.

According to Northborough Recreation Director Allie Lane, Cox and Rogers reached out to her to see if they could rent the pickleball courts. As they were talking, Lane told them about Be Well Northborough, which she said has a similar mission as their efforts as well as the Shine Initiative.

The Shine Initiative is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “combat discrimination and to destigmatize mental health conditions in children and young adults,” according to its website. The organization works with schools and communities throughout the North Central and Central Mass.

“Everyone is sad, everyone feels depressed at one time or another; it’s how you manage it and handle it and who you can talk to,” said Rogers. “So, it’s really to destigmatize mental health.”

Over 100 people attended the tournament, and 48 people from 12 towns in the area competed.

In the beginner to intermediate category, Daniel Leroy and Doug Tucker took home the gold and Christina Macaulay and Holt Murray took home the silver.

In the intermediate to advanced category, Joseph Calo and Christian Powers won the gold and Vladimir Giterman and Michael Nguyen got the silver.

Organizers hope that the tournament become an annual event.

In addition to Rogers and Cox, the event was also organized by Mary Ellen Clark, Janet Johnson, Jenny Jelliffe, Mina Baum, Linda Harrington, Marilyn Govoni, and Judy Karlin.

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