Positive resolution sought in volleyball theft at Vandergrift court dedicated to late coach

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022 | 4:26 PM


Tim Toy beams when he talks about the return of the Pack the Park high school girls volleyball game between Norwin and Kiski Area set for Aug. 29 at Ellen Toy Grass Court in Vandergrift’s Kennedy Park.

While positive ventures are 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 can be resolved in good faith.

Ellen Toy, 54, a coach at Plum and Kiski Area and the founder of the girls program at Leechburg in 1992, died in February 2016 after a battle with stomach cancer.

Tim Toy said he received a call July 22 from someone who checks on the court.

“She said there were some kids out there, and they were hanging on the net and were kicking some balls around,” Toy said.

“I stop at the court every day to make sure everything is OK. I went up to see what had happened, and one of the cords that holds the net firm was broken. That was no big deal, as I have what I need to fix it. But then I opened the box to make sure there still were balls in there. There normally are six balls in there for use by anyone who wants to play a pickup game, and they were all gone.”

Toy said that made him upset.

“Going to the court is a really therapeutic thing for me to do, and it makes me feel really good to take care of it and make it really nice,” Toy said. “I had developed a trust in the community. I was really hurt by what happened. That court is a sacred space to me.”

Toy took to social media to explain what happened and how he felt. He said he has received a lot of support from all over the community and beyond and also offers to replace the balls that were taken.

While he appreciates the offers to replace the balls, he hopes the ones taken can be returned.

“I got to thinking that volleyball is a sport where mistakes are made,” he said. “The game is played in these one-point increments, and you get a chance that if you make a mistake, to come together as a team, figure out what went wrong, correct it if necessary and move forward.

“My thoughts on the missing balls is that it was a moment in time where I think those who were there were having fun spending time with each other and got carried away. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. I just want my trust to be restored and the balls returned to the box. They are for everyone to enjoy. We live in a small community, and people understand and love that we’ve created this living memorial for Ellen.”

The Ellen Toy Grass Court at Kennedy Park was completed last July and dedicated in her memory.

Many games have been played on its surface in the past year, including the inaugural Pack the Park game last September between Kiski Area and Norwin.

The Knights, under the direction of coach Mary Ellen Ferragonio, a former coaching colleague and longtime friend of Ellen Toy, got the better of Kiski Area last year, 3-1.

In addition to the game, Toy’s We Serve First Foundation continues to present volleyball opportunities for players of all ages in the Alle-Kiski Valley and beyond.

He is excited about recent fundraising efforts, including one with the help of professional Erin Fairs through the Athletes Unlimited pro league.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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