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Softball leads to connection in recovery in Tunkhannock

A softball tournament took place in Wyoming County on Sunday but the goal behind the competition was more than just winning.

TUNKHANNOCK, Pa. — Each pitch, throw, and swing on Napa Field in Tunkhannock has more behind it than just a desire to win. There's a desire for connection.

That's what led organizer Catherine Briegel to start this softball tournament seven years ago when she was trying to get closer to her teenage son.

"I was newly sober, and it was super important to figure out a way to connect with him. So, what better way than sports? My son is a huge athlete, and it's a great way to play something and reconnect and build a relationship," said Briegel, organizer.

Now it's turned into a yearly tournament and has grown to include teams from drug and alcohol treatment organizations in Wyoming, Bradford, Luzerne, and Lackawanna Counties.

"We have the guys who are newly sober and still in treatment. We have alumni. We have current treatment court clients. We have some probation officers. We have just regular everyday people who support the sober sluggers, and what we do, it's really just the whole community," said Briegel.

"It's just really neat to see all the people that are engaged in recovery at this point in time to know that you can do it as well as the support of other people, you know, you're not alone in this process," said Megan Vanderburg, Luzerne County Treatment Court.

The event has grown every year and turned into a family affair and fundraiser.

"We have fun every year. Everybody's competitive, but we're all friends outside of here. So that's what makes it a great time for everyone," said Brian Roberts, Program Manager.

"A fun game of softball it can't get no better than this," said Walter Mitchell, Lackawanna County Treatment Court.

And while something like a game of softball in the sunshine might seem simple, those in recovery tell us the impact is life-changing.

"I'm two years sober, and the day I found out that I can be sober was at this game. So it's cool to see I know a lot of people here from my past, and they're all sober today, and they're all supportive of each other," said Mike Briegeo, Endless Mountains Extended Care.

"So that people can get connected and learn to meet new people in a new support group and to be able to lift each other up," said Dr. Adrianne Scheller, Endless Mountains Extended Care.

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