Berry sliding in

Avery’s Brooks Berry slides safely into home in the first inning against Alexander County during the 2017 Will Dicus Memorial Tournament. This year’s regional event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

HIGH COUNTRY — The Will Dicus Memorial Baseball Tournament has turned into a High Country tradition that promotes baseball locally and helps raise funds for baseball causes.

All of that will have to wait at least a year. The tournament, rescheduled for June 2021, has been canceled, according to co-tournament directors Bill Dicus and Marty Lambert.

“That’s where we are,” Dicus said. “We’re out for 2020 and we’re looking forward to 2021.”

The tournament was named after Bill Dicus’ son Will, who died of Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 18. Will Dicus was a standout pitcher when he was 12 years old, shortly before he was diagnosed with the disease.

He managed to play for Watauga High School through his senior year despite having the disease.

The tournament includes four age groups: under-8 machine-coach pitch, under-10, under-12 and under-15. In past years, it had grown to have enough teams to expand into two weekends.

“I just hate it and I hate it for the kids,” Dicus said. “That’s the whole thing. We enjoyed doing it and we raised money and all that, but seeing those kids out there running around and watching them smile like that. If we didn’t make a quarter, it would all be worth it because of that.”

There was hope that it could be played despite the havoc that the virus has inflicted on the country and in North Carolina, where most of the teams are from. Restrictions have been eased with the beginning of the state’s Phase 2 reopening plan, but getting teams to play could be a challenge because of the risk associated with the pandemic.

“We said a month ago that if we had it, we might have the most teams ever because they would be itching to play,” Lambert said. “We would have concessions, volunteers, in close proximity of kids in the dugout and all that I don’t see how we could control that and even have teams.”

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