Tyler D’Ambrose ‘21
This past Sunday, first-year law students participated in the annual 1L Softball Tournament, and the event did not disappoint. After hours spent grinding in the summer heat at Copeley Field, Section J emerged victorious—capping off an impressive tournament run.
In a field that boasted of many talented teams, Section J was clearly the most impressive. The team began the tournament with a chip on its shoulder, as the section was the #13 seed, meaning it had to win a game before making it to the quarterfinals. But the players did just that, and in impressive fashion, bested Section F in a contest that ended 13-4. In the quarterfinals, the players in Section J had their work cut out for them as they faced the Dandelion winners and top seed of the tournament, Section C. Here, Section J had its most impressive performance of the tournament, triggering the mercy rule when Section C was dominated 18-0. And after a decisive 18-6 victory over Section A in the semi-finals, Section J was set to face the talented Section D squad.
The Finals of the 1L Softball Tournament provided arguably the most exciting game of the day. The matchup featured a pair of stud pitchers, as Phil Tonseth ’22 for Section D squared off against Connor Fitzgerald ’22 of Section J. The game was close from the start, and the score was tied 10-10 going into the sixth of seven innings. But a series of heavy hits from Section J put it over the edge and propelled the section to victory in a contest that ended 15-12. While Section D had an impressive tournament showing, at the end of the day it was Section J that was hoisting the coveted Keg Racing trophy.
There were a few other stand-out teams worthy of honorable mentions. Section G also had an impressive tournament run, nearly reaching the finals before being ousted by Section D in a tight game that was ultimately decided in overtime. Also, Section A performed well on Sunday, with their only loss coming from the eventual tournament winners. While there were a few blow-outs, most of the games on Sunday were tightly contested. And it was evident that every team had practiced and was well-rehearsed for the tournament. So, congrats to all the 1L sections for making it a fun and exciting tournament.
As usual, the festivities that occurred off the field were a big hit with 1Ls. White Claw, Modelo, and near-beer Bud Light abounded in the dugouts. 1Ls faced a familiar challenge throughout Sunday, as they had to figure out how to crank out LRW memos and study for Civ Pro while away from the comforting arms of sobriety. Many were up for the challenge, and their efforts should be commended. The teams also displayed impressive and varied musical tastes, alternating playlists and genres to accompany warm-ups and walk-outs. And team chants, posters, and dances showed an impressive sense of section pride amongst the competitors. It was clear that the students were fully engaged with the tournament.
The tournament also presented opportunities for lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and dedication. Losing teams were repeatedly reined in by peer advisors who consoled them on their losses and congratulated them for their efforts. And several teams that finished outside first place still bathed in the celebratory champagne bath, including Section D, which, after losing the finals, began chanting, “We’re number two!” repeatedly while popping bottles. Each game ended with the opposing teams exchanging high-fives as they congratulated each other for a “good game.” Even in the few heated moments on the field, players were quick to compose themselves and quicker to apologize for any lack of good sportsmanship. Overall, the 1L Tournament continued to embody the UVA values that students hold dear.
Ryan Ray ’20, one of the organizers of the event and tournament director for the upcoming 37th annual Softball Invitational in the spring, said, “Sunday couldn't have been a more perfect day for the 1L Tournament. The weather was awesome and gave us a great backdrop for what turned about to be an incredible atmosphere. I loved that 1Ls and peer advisors stayed throughout the day. It was also great to see Dean Goluboff make yet another appearance at a North Grounds Softball League event.” Regarding how the tournament prepared him for his future as a sports dad, he added, “I also thoroughly enjoyed preparing for fatherhood, sitting in a lawn chair next to Austin, wearing tennis shoes, and drinking the best carbonated, corn-syrup-free, adult beverage on the market.” Ray gave a special shout out to Brooke Swann ’20, Corey Parker ’20, Eleanor Schmalzl ’20, Molly Cain ’20, Clay Phillips ’20 and many members of North Grounds Softball League for their help throughout the day.
Austin Johnson ’20, co-tournament director with Ray, added, “As a 3L, it was great to get to see our new class in action, and (for the most part) the players and fans were humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Without a doubt, the highlight of the day was all-star umpire (and 3L softball legend) Brooke Swann standing down a man twice her size after an intense call at home plate. Thanks to all the volunteers, players, fans, our firm sponsors (Bracewell and Simpson Thatcher), and Dean Goluboff for making the day possible. To everyone except Section J: Better luck next year (oh, wait...).”
 All games but the finals played based on time, meaning no new inning would start after forty-five minutes of the regularly scheduled start time unless the teams were at a tie at that time.
 He and Austin Johnson ’20, fellow organizer and tournament director, like to refer to the position more officially as “tournament dad.”