Wednesday, August 3, 2022 | 4:26 p.m.
Tim Toy beams as he talks about the return of the Pack the Park High School Girls’ Volleyball game between Norwin and Kiski Area scheduled for August 29 at Ellen Toy Grass Court in Vandergrift’s Kennedy Park.
As positive ventures loom on the horizon, Toy said he also hopes a recent incident at the outdoor court dedicated to his late wife and longtime area volleyball coach and mentor may be resolved in good faith.
Ellen Toy, 54, a coach at Plum and Kiski Area and founder of the women’s program in Leechburg in 1992, died in February 2016 after a battle with stomach cancer.
Tim Toy said he received a call on July 22 from someone checking the pitch.
“She said there were kids there, and they were hanging over the net and hitting balls,” Toy said.
“I stop in the field every day to make sure everything is fine. I went up to see what had happened, and one of the cords holding the net was broken. It was okay, because I have what I need to fix it. But then I opened the box to make sure there were still bullets in it. There are normally six balls inside for anyone wanting to play a pickup game, and they were all gone.
Toy said it upset him.
“Going to court is a really therapeutic thing for me, and it feels really good to deal with it and make it really enjoyable,” Toy said. “I had developed a trust in the community. I was really hurt by what happened. This courtyard is a sacred space for me.
Toy took to social media to explain what happened and how he felt. He said he has received a lot of support from the whole community and beyond and is also offering to replace the balls that have been taken.
While he appreciates offers to replace balls, he hopes those taken can be returned.
“I started thinking that volleyball is a sport where mistakes are made,” he said. “The game is played in these one-point increments, and you have the ability, if you make a mistake, to come together as a team, figure out what went wrong, correct it if necessary, and move on. forward.
“What I think of the missing bullets is that it was a time when I think whoever was there was having fun hanging out with each other and getting carried away. I don’t want to cause any trouble to anyone. I just want my confidence restored and the balls back in the box. They are for everyone to enjoy. We live in a small community, and people understand and love that we created this memorial alive for Ellen.
Kennedy Park’s Ellen Toy Grass land was completed last July and dedicated to her memory.
Many matches have been played on its surface over the past year, including the first Pack the Park match last September between Kiski Area and Norwin.
The Knights, under coach Mary Ellen Ferragonio, a former coaching colleague and longtime friend of Ellen Toy, defeated Kiski Area last year, 3-1.
In addition to the game, the Toy’s We Serve First Foundation continues to present volleyball opportunities for players of all ages in the Alle-Kiski Valley and beyond.
He’s excited about recent fundraising efforts, including one with the help of pro Erin Fairs through pro league Athletes Unlimited.