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Roseville Youth Soccer Club renames tournament

Rick Hitch Fall Classic is this weekend; 115 teams expected from U10 to U19
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Rick Hitch meant so much to so many in Roseville.

While he coached and contributed volunteer time for the Woodcreek Seawolves swim team, Roseville Girls Softball and more, Hitch’s epicenter was the Roseville Youth Soccer Club.

After Hitch passed away while climbing Mount Everest in May 2011, good friend and RYSC Manager Chris Traina and others in the club knew immediately they wanted to rename one of their annual tournaments in Hitch’s honor.

That time has come.

The Rick Hitch Fall Classic will be held Saturday and Sunday. The tournament will bring to Roseville 115 Division 3 competitive teams, from as far south as Fresno and north to Eel River, in age groups from under 10 to under 19. Matches will be played throughout the day at Kaseberg and Wanish parks and into the evening at Maidu Park.

Traina said it was hard to put into words, but once he got going, he couldn’t say enough about his late friend and mentor. Traina and Hitch met through softball, and when Traina signed up his daughter for soccer, Hitch collared him to coach.

“He turned me into a soccer coach and a club manager all in two years,” Traina said before adding with a chuckle, “How’d you pull that off guy?”

Traina said Hitch coached and volunteered for all the right reasons, and he had a handful of beliefs whether he was wearing his Roseville Diamonds hat — the soccer team he coached to three CYSA Association Cup championships — or at poolside.

“Make sure you make it fun. Make sure you make it a life experience,” Traina said, recalling two bits of advice he heard from Hitch, a board member and coaching coordinator for 14 years with the RYSC. “This is really all about Rick. We just wanted to make sure we did enough to recognize all his contributions to the community. He was a great person. He gave back to his community. It was the way he went about everything. He gave 100 percent and just did a great job.”

Hitch’s former players and their parents are proving diamonds truly are forever. Former Diamonds, who are known as the Diamond Family, make up much of the volunteer tournament staff, along with RYSC board members. They’ll wear T-shirts that will be a little different than the tournament shirts.

Hitch’s widow, Loretta, has written a one-page bio about Rick for the tournament brochure and contributed bracelets from his celebration of life to the coaches’ packets.

Loretta said it has been difficult as the memories returned while she wrote and reread letters written about Rick.

“It reminds me of how much I’ve lost and the community has lost,” she said. “But I feel good about it. It’s a good way to honor him. He packed a lot of things in a very short time. He was very busy. He considered it his obligation to volunteer. He said everybody needed to.”

While Loretta plans to attend the tournament throughout the weekend, their youngest daughter, Ali, won’t be able to. Having graduated from UC San Diego, she’s attending medical school on the island of Dominica, near Martinique in the Caribbean.

Traina’s big picture includes submitting an application to have a park in Roseville named after Hitch. Traina’s short-term vision is to hold the Rick Hitch Fall Classic every year, staffed by the Diamond Family and others.

“We want to run a great event that honors him and gets the Diamond Family together once a year,” Traina said. “My dream is 20 years from now, they’re still doing this. If Rick was still here, he’d be doing things.”

Said Loretta Hitch, “I’m just hoping everybody has a good time.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.

RICK HITCH FALL CLASSIC

What: Division 3 competitive youth soccer tournament

When/Where: All day Saturday and Sunday at Maidu, Kaseberg and Wanish parks in Roseville