A Challenge and Reminder: The Kathleen Walsh Softball Field represents the legacy of a young woman with a zest for life

No amount of rain was going to deter a memorable afternoon at DePaul Catholic.

Not with Kathleen Walsh’s legacy shining so brightly.

And thus, it will be a “challenge and a reminder.”

Kathleen, during her playing days at DePaul. Her smile was perpetual. 

On April 20, the DePaul High softball field was officially re-named the Kathleen Walsh Softball Field, in honor and memory of Kathleen, a former Spartans softball player and 2002 graduate, who died suddenly, on Dec. 17, 2003, following a surgical procedure.

The original plan to re-name the field included a pair of games at what’s been an annual event, for the past 13 years, the Kathleen Walsh Classic. This year, the itinerary was changed to make the event a four-team tourney, entitled the Greater Wayne Kathleen Walsh Classic, with all four Wayne High schools competing.

But the heavy rain all night, April 12, and into the following morning, made that impossible.

The softball field at DePaul has a new and enduring title. (Click on photo for larger image) 

“There was no way we weren’t going to dedicate the field,” said DePaul head coach Sue Parler, who coached Walsh in 2001 and 2002. “Everyone worked hard to get the field ready so that we could have our annual Alumni and Friends game. There was a tremendous turnout of people, over 300, at the dedication. It was tremendous.”

Among those in attendance where Kathleen’s parents, Darlene and Kevin, as well as her siblings, older brother Kenny and youngest sister, Kelly. Both Kevin and Kelly are also DePaul graduates. The family resides in Totowa.

At the dedication, Msgr. Eugene R. Sylva performed a blessing on the field. Msgr. Sylva was president of DePaul when Kathleen was a student there.

A plaque was dedicated at the field, and there’s now a sign, at the top of the fence, behind home plate, which reads, The Kathleen Walsh Softball Field.

Parler read the inscription on the plaque.

DePaul head coach Sue Parler read the plaque, which will be affixed to the backstop at DePaul. (Click on photo for larger image) 

“It was tough getting through that,” Parler said. “If you knew Kathleen, then you remember a vibrant young girl, who had a zest for life, with happiness and laughter. She was a very special girl. Our coaches knew it when she first came here and started playing. It wasn’t just softball talent, it was everything about her. Kathleen was a great kid, from a wonderful family.”

The plaque read: The Kathleen Walsh Softball Field. Our softball angel, Kathleen Walsh, from the Class of 2002, was a scholar, athlete and leader; a true friend to all fortunate enough to know her. May her passion for life continue to inspire all those who enter this field. Dedicated April 20, 2019.

Parler called the plaque and dedication of the field a challenge and reminder of what Kathleen stood for.

“The challenge is to live life to the fullest and the reminder will be the person she was,” said Parler.

Despite the bad weather, the event went very well.

“It was like clockwork,” said Parler. “The kids on this team are something else. We’ve been struggling this year, with our pitching, and everyone has volunteered to try and pitch, and do anything to help this team. The parents of the kids are simply amazing, too, which is no surprise.

“Since we had to make changes to the day, the parents and kids were here early in the morning, and the later in the day, to help make things go so smoothly. Obviously, our players didn’t know Kathleen, and most of the parents didn’t, either, but they understood what Kathleen represented. And they knew what an honor it was today, to be a part of this day.

“Kathleen’s brother threw out the first pitch, her sister caught the ball, and so many of her friends and teammates were here, as well. That’s what the day stood for.”

Parler also shared a story about Kathleen’s enthusiasm for her school.

“We had a real good swimmer at DePaul, Kristin Clegg,” said Parler, of Clegg, who went on to a marvelous collegiate swimming career at William Paterson. “In order for Kristin to swim at the state championships, she needed a team. So Kathleen joins the swim team and recruits three others to be on the team, just so DePaul would have a team and Kristin could swim at the states.

“Kristin was at the dedication today. Again, that’s what this day was all about.”


By mike051893

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