By Shannon Carlson – Asst. Director Media Operations
Now that school is out, Newport Gulls games are in full swing, and so are the Newport Gulls Summer Camps. For the last ten years, one specific week-long camp has been more important than the others to the Gulls and the Aquidneck Island Community – the Newport Little League Camp memorializing Mark Weed.
Weed, the late husband of the former Rhode Island Senate President Theresa Paiva-Weed (who represented Newport), was an active member of the Aquidneck Island Community and a big supporter of youth athletics. He lost his battle with cancer on August 22, 2009.
This summer, five camps running Monday to Thursday each, took place at Portsmouth Little League, Middletown Little League, and Newport Little League sites. Every summer, children ages 6-12 have The Experience Of A Lifetime With “The Major League Stars of Tomorrow”. Gulls players and coaches, who serve as instructors, teach the fundamentals of baseball specific to the age group and/or skill level of all involved.
During each camp, the players, who are among the top collegiate athletes in the country, work one-on-one with participants to teach techniques, give pointers, and supervise scrimmages. Throughout the week, the players host various teaching stations dedicated to different parts of the game, such as fielding, throwing and batting. After skill-specific drills and instruction, camp participants take part in contests and live game play to show off their skills, with a chance to win awards for different competitions.
One of Weed’s close friends, Kevin Weaver, of Newport, was deeply saddened by Mark’s passing, and like many of Weed’s friends and family, was hopeful that his memory and passion for youth sports could be kept alive following his death.
Through the Newport Gulls summer camp program, the Mark Weed Memorial Scholarship Fund does just that, providing free summer camp opportunities to children on Aquidneck Island who otherwise could not afford to attend. One week of camp costs $90 and includes instruction, a Gulls T-shirt, and Gulls Game tickets.
Weaver describes the Newport Gulls organization as a “very active part of our community,” whether it’s through summer camps, special events and appearances, or game nights at Cardines Field.
Weed and Weaver experienced their childhood together as best friends, growing up in the City by the Sea.
“Mark and I were inseparable. We played basketball, baseball, football, and many other games together. Mark had a beautiful baseball swing, and was an especially fast runner,” Weaver recalled. “I remember Mark as a hard worker and a good-hearted soul who enjoyed a good laugh and valued his friendships.”
“In honor of his love for sports, memorial donations were made to the Newport Gulls Summer Camp Scholarships, and as a result, the Mark Weed Memorial Scholarship Fund was born,” Weaver said.
“Today, it warms my heart every time I see a member of Mark’s family. Perhaps even more so, the memories of Mark come alive each and every time I see and talk with Mark’s wife, Teresa,” Weaver said.
In particular, Weaver will always remember the last conversation he had with his friend as they watched Weaver’s son, Michael, play soccer.
This year, the memorial camp took place July 8-11 at Newport’s Fifth Ward Little League, located on the water adjacent to King park. Children who attended this camp are invited onto Cardines’ Field for a pre-game ceremony on Mark Weed Memorial Night on Friday July 12.
While Gulls players take on the Upper Valley Nighthawks that night, important work will be done off the field to replenish the Mark Weed Memorial Scholarship Fund. Fund supporters will man the gates at Cardines’ Field, which open at 5 p.m., and will roam the stands for a 50/50 raffle to raise money for future camp scholarships. The Gulls annually look forward to this special night with Weed’s family, celebrating and remembering Weed’s life, and all the good he has done – and continues to do – for the Aquidneck Island community.
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