YONKERS, N.Y. – Old friends from Yonkers and Ossining joined Saturday as 22 softball teams played in a day-long tournament at Redmond Field in the Third Annual Christian Federico Softball Tournament.
Federico was a standout student-athlete at Ossining High School, where he graduated in 2008. Born in Yonkers, where his father, Lou, and mother, Luanne, were raised, he went on to the University of Maryland, where he died suddenly while jogging in 2010.
“I told God this morning that He shouldn’t rain on this day, and it’s OK so far,” Luanne Federico said, looking up and acknowledging her son. “Christian and I were a lot alike. We love people and we love life. I can see him and hear him through all these young people who were his friends for so many years.”
The Redmond Field complex was filled with tournament games on four fields throughout the day before a storm stopped play in early afternoon. The tournament will continue with semifinals Aug. 4.
“This is a real family event,” said Robert Forcelli, who grew up with Lou Federico and has been at each memorial tournament. “Christian was a wonderful young man. We lost someone special."
Christian’s schoolmates and teammates from his childhood and teen years in Ossining were part of the tourney teams, along with players from all over Westchester.
“C-Fed was that kind of kid that always had a smile and would be the first one to help someone who needed help,” said longtime friend Chris Hazen. “We miss him a lot, but he would want us to do this to remember him. He would want to know we were helping people.”
Damien Gillespie, another of Federico’s lifelong teammates and friends, shrugged off a recent surgery to be on hand despite not being able to play.
“I lost my cousin Richie (Royster, a former Ossining football player who was killed in an auto accident) and C-Fed in the last couple of years,” Gillespie said. “We were teammates. We still are. You have to make something good out of it."
Vic Federico, Christian's uncle, tried to keep the dozens of games going and the tournament moving.
“There has been so much support,” he said. “There’s a great feeling here. Everyone is here for Christian. And being able to give scholarships in his name is the best part of it.”
Luanne Federico paused several times to greet old friends before summing up the day, and thanked sponsors and raffle contributors from Briarcliff, Tarrytown, Ossining and Yonkers.
“Christian had that smile that just elevated you,” she said. “I knew he was a special young man. I want especially to thank my husband, Lou, and his staff, my brother-in-law Vic, Donny the Caterer and everyone who came. When I see the love that people had for Christian, I know we can’t let that ever die.”