Living, laughing, golfing at Zavinski Memorial Tourney

“Live. Laugh. Golf.”

In a photograph, it was written on the t-shirts of four family members playing in a Zavinski Memorial Golf Tournament.

It’s so appropriate for a golf tournament that remembers an avid golfer, and even more avid father, family member and friend. Jim Zavinski passed away suddenly – while on a golf trip – at the young age of 42.

What better way to remember him – and his wife Cindy, who passed away only a few years later of cancer at the age of 49 – than to live, laugh and golf. Sunday marks the 10th Zavinski Memorial Golf Tournament at Jackson Valley Country Club.

This 6-6-6 golf scramble is as unique as you can get, but not for the popular format. The uniqueness comes from the fact that most, if not all, of the 140 players are family or friends of the Zavinskis, and playing for the cause.

“What really helps me is knowing how much fun my parents would have at something like this,” said Kristy Zavinski, who was in college when her father died unexpectedly in March of 2005. Jim and Cindy also have a son, Kyle, and another daughter, Katie, and many, many friends and family that play in the tournament.

Two of those friends, Randy Mineweaser and Mike Ishman, thought it was appropriate to start this tournament, and a scholarship for Warren Area High School seniors in Jim “Z” Zavinski’s name. Ten years, and $20,000 later, it is now given annually to a male senior and female senior within Warren County School District who can best answer two questions that Jim Zavinski would have probably been interested to know.

A huge sports fan, Jim Zavinski helped coached Kristy to the Pitt-Bradford Sports Hall of Fame as a fastpitch softball pitcher. The questions are, according to niece Jenny Rondinelli: What have high school sports taught you, and; where do you see yourself in five years? This year’s winners will be recognized at Sunday’s tourney.

The tournament started as the Jim Zavinski Memorial Golf Tournament, and then became the Zavinski Memorial Golf Tournament to honor both Jim and Cindy. The scholarship is so appropriate for the Zavinskis’ love of sports and of education, and receives a big boost from businesses in the community.

“That was one of their proudest moments was me going to college,” said Kristy.

The golf tournament is so appropriate to the Zavinskis as well.

“The tournament is full every year,” said Jenny. “We haven’t had a tournament yet that wasn’t. It’s about having fun, about being able to remember my uncle and aunt, so we really just try to make it the best golf tournament you can have.”

Kristy got a message on Wednesday night, after the flooding in town, that friends were “pulling an alnighter to replace a bridge” on the course, she said.

Family and friends look forward to this weekend – the Sunday before Memorial Day – every year, including out-of-towners.

“People look forward to it – it might be the only time some people see each other in a year,” said Kristy.

The golf is secondary to the closeness.

“That night, when it’s all said and done, that’s when you sit back and reflect,” said Kristy. “I can’t look back over 10 years and say we didn’t have a good time.”