By JAMIE BAKER
It takes hundreds of volunteers to put on a professional golf tournament and more Findlay area residents than ever before will be wearing the blue shirts as volunteers at next week’s LPGA Marathon Classic Tournament at Sylvania’s Highland Meadows Golf Club.
More than 100 area residents, mostly Marathon Petroleum Corp. employees, retirees and their families, got their final instruction and training on Tuesday at Marathon’s headquarters in downtown Findlay. The tournament is set for July 17-20.
Typically 10-15 residents from the region would be among the 1,000 volunteers for the LPGA’s annual stop in Toledo, which dates back to 1984.
But with Marathon’s sponsorship of the tournament, the number of area individuals who volunteer at the event has grown substantially. Last year, there were around 120 volunteers from Marathon and the Findlay area. This year, that number is likely to top the 140 mark.
“With Marathon becoming the tournament’s primary sponsor. We’re seeing a lot more people from this area stepping up and volunteering to be involved in the tournament,” said Alex Coressel, the tournament’s assistant volunteer chairman who has served as a volunteer at the tournament for 14 years.
“Probably 90 percent of volunteers come back year in and year out. One of the hole captains has been a volunteer every year the tournament has taken place.
“For me, I do it because there are a lot of children’s charities the tournament tries to get money to. After I did it the first couple of years, I enjoyed it so much I just kept doing it.”
Area resident Denny Powell, a retiree from Cooper Tire, is back for a second year as a volunteer. He’ll be serving as a marshal on hole No. 4 for two days of the tournament.
“My neighbor Brad Koller was a Marathon guy and he convinced me to volunteer last year. There’s a group of three or four of us who did it last year and we had a lot of fun,” Powell said.
“Those gals can really hit the ball and it’s amazing watching them play. The players are extremely nice, too, and you can tell they really enjoy it out there.”
Gary Gearing will also be working as a marshal on hole No. 4. Like Powell, he’s looking forward to returning this year as an LPGA Marathon Classic volunteer.
“It’s a great experience to be so close to such great golfers. We all enjoy the game of golf and it’s really amazing watching them play,” Gearing said.
The pair even got current Riverdale golf coach Mark Ruggles into the spirit. Powell and Ruggles both attend Findlay E-Free Church and convinced Ruggles to volunteer for this year’s tournament.
For the volunteer coordinators, prepping for the tournament is more work than most people realize.
“Hours upon hours upon hours are spent getting ready for this week. We have our first meeting for the following year’s tournament a month after the current tournament is over,” said Coressel, who will take over as the head volunteer chairman next year.
“The volunteer chairmen are out there 12-16 hours a day to get things ready for the tournament. We’re out there for eight days. We’ll start setting up on Sunday and we’ll be out there on the Monday after the tournament to tear everything down.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun too.”
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