The Briski Family wishes to welcome all the participants to this year’s second annual Alexis Briski Memorial Softball Tournament and thank the dedicated softball players, their parents, many volunteers from our league, and our sister leagues, without whom this tournament could not have taken place. As a family who only recently lost their oldest daughter and sister to a children’s bone cancer know as Osteosarcoma, on May 23rd, 2009, we have plenty of emotions as this tournament approaches including of course some sadness, but also lots of fond memories.
Our immediate family includes Kael (Alexis’ dad) Kay her mother, Annika her 10 year old sister and Magic Softball player, Matthew her brother (eight) and Emily her sister (three years old and an aspiring softball player). We’ll be out at the fields all day long.
Alexis loved softball and played it in our recreational league, and competitive Magic teams. She was loved by her teammates and she loved them too. Alexis and I spent many a day and night in the hospital talking about softball even wondering when she could get back and play. We also spent many a day on the fields when she was healthy; this is something that I will never regret doing; spending quality time with my daughter out on the softball field.
One of the bravest things I ever saw Alexis do over the year that she had cancer (May-2008 through May 2009), or ever for that matter, was when she took the mound one last time in late February or early March of 2009. She had not pitched or played for 9 months, and although she was as active as she could be, she got little real exercise over that time.
In order to understand this, a little perspective is needed. We discovered Alexis’ cancer because she complained that her arm was hurting. We got it x-rayed, and had an MRI where we discovered the cancer in her upper left arm. It is a cancer that grows in the bone, and in order to hope to cure it or stop its spread, all of the bone and muscle that has tumor must be removed. In this case, they had to remove her upper humerus (arm bone) from her shoulder all the way down to just above her elbow, and replace it with a donor bone. As you might imagine, this was a very painful procedure that left her with an arm that was not nearly as functional as it was before. Well, fast forward….
In a period where she was feeling well, Alexis was given the opportunity to go out and pitch by her coach Ray Sisco, who just the night before (a Friday night) had presented her with a left handed glove and taught her how to throw with her natural throwing hand (her right), and then pull the glove off her left hand, put it on her right, take a throw back, then pull the ball out of the glove with her left hand tuck the glove under her left arm, transfer the ball to her right hand, and then throw it back.
Having figured this out in about five minutes or less, she then started to pitch, and looked as good if not better than she had nine months before. However, the next day when she took the mound, she couldn’t wear the glove because although the transfer I described above would allow her to use her right hand to catch or field a ball, you need to have the ball in your hand to pitch, so in order to pitch she couldn’t wear a glove, but had a teammate next to her to protect her from a come backer.
Out she walked on to the field, no glove, wearing a beanie and with no hair because the chemo therapy treatments designed to eradicate the cancer also kill all of the cells that will allow your hair to grow. I was amazed to see her get out there and throw some strikes for a half inning before she became just too tired. It was quite a thing to watch and she received a standing ovation when she walked off the mound.
I like to tell this story because of two things. First, it tells you the kind of person that Alexis was…the courage and determination she had and her true love of the sport of softball, and second, it makes you realize what a privilege it is to just walk out on to a softball field healthy and happy, not a care in the world and play the game…There is a story behind that too….
Happily, I continue to coach softball and you will see me out on the fields coaching my daughter Annika on our Magic 10U team. On my coaches hat, I wear two patches; one that is a yellow ribbon and has my daughter’s initials AB and her #3 on it; our Magic teams wore it in 2009. The other is a purple “J” that you will see on some of our Magic uniforms. That is for another local girl, Jensen Barrett of Saratoga CA, who Alexis met in the hospital and suffered from the same disease that Alexis did. Jensen passed away just this August 29th…She and Alexis were great friends…Jensen was an athlete too, a tennis player and the same age as Alexis. Her family will be at the fields this weekend as well. I am often asked about these patches by many of the girls that I see at tournaments and I always tell them briefly about the patches, and they are always thankful, and I think appreciative. They realize what it means…
So in summary, this weekend’s tournament in honor of my daughter Alexis Joy Briski means a lot of things. First, it is a memorial to a young girl that was loved by many, and who left us far too early; it gives her friends, family, classmates, and community the opportunity to remember and celebrate her life. Second, it is a celebration of sport that is exciting, fun to watch, and is really owned and played by girls. I’ve noticed that there is something special about this tournament. The girls from all the teams know it…when you arrive you’ll understand. Finally, it allows us some perspective…to be healthy and playing the game of softball or watching our daughters, sisters, granddaughters etc… play the game is a real treat and privilege and it allows us to recognize that.
To have 44 teams registered to play in this tournament is amazing. What this tells us is that people know what the tournament is about, and their hearts are in it. Alexis told me many times that she wanted people to be happy and remember the happy memories they had of her. The Briski Family will do their level best to do just that and we hope that you can too.
We are grateful that the Los Gatos Saratoga Girl’s Softball Association (LGSGSA) chose to honor our daughter in this fashion. Our family could not think of a better way to remember Alexis than this truly living memorial. She would have loved the idea of her friends, teammates, and fellow competitors from all over the area coming together to play tournament in her honor.
We look forward to seeing you out at the tournament!
The Briski Family (October 11, 2010)
Our friends from the Carmel Stingers and Peninsula Pride have once again joined together under the leadership of a special player, Montana Sprague, to design and sell a friendship bracelet in memory of Alexis Briski #3. See the image below of this year's bracelet. The kids organized this on their own initiative, and on behalf of everyone in the LGSGSA we thank them for this generous, thoughtful gesture.
Proceeds from the sales of each bracelet will help fund Alexis Briski scholarships and other worthy programs that benefit the community on behalf of our league.
The cost for each bracelet is $2.00.
In honor of Alexis Briski, a softball lovin' 11-year old Magic player who lost her battle in May 2009 to Osteosarcoma.
Where: JJ Magoo's Restaurant in Los Gatos - 15525 Los Gatos Blvd. (next to Kinko's/Fed Ex and Yoga Source)
When: Wednesday, October 13th from 6pm to 9pm
Please come and shop from local vendors such as Judy's Buckles, Sproutz Kids, Stella Dot, Cookie Lee, and many others...
Shop for vintage styled pendants, belt buckles, bottle cap necklaces, unique purses, oilcloth bags in beautiful prints, and more.
Shop to your heart's delight, knowing your are helping to grow the Alexis Briski Memorial Scholarship fund which is available to college-bound seniors at LGHS and SHS who have played in the LGSGSA program.
Thanks and please contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (408) 771-5560.