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A soccer ball arcs through the sky in Gesling Stadium on a sunny Saturday morning, eventually settling onto the foot of a defenseman. His teammates in the eight-on-eight tournament shout for the ball. He passes to a midfielder streaking up-field, who crosses the ball to a forward. Next comes a shot on goal that barely misses.
Outside the stadium, on the bordering intramural field, two other eight-on-eight games are being played. With the day-long tournament’s first round fully under way, Kyle Woltersdorf has no time to watch any of the games for more than a moment. As tournament coordinator, the junior architecture major is in charge of timing each round, arbitrating any disputed referee calls, and filling in brackets.
Twelve teams are playing in the Second Annual Matthew Tembo Tournament, a round-robin competition hosted by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Participating are about 120 players who comprise Greek teams, graduate student teams, and even teams from nearby schools.
As timekeeper, Woltersdorf signals a long whistle after 25 minutes. The first round is over. He checks in with refs to record scores and to fill in the next round of brackets. Three more games are quickly under way. During the games, music fills the air, as does the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers being grilled by fraternity volunteers working the concession stands. T-shirts with a silhouette of the tournament’s namesake, Matt Tembo, playing soccer are for sale, too. The atmosphere is a mix of an outdoor BBQ and a concert. An occasional cheer from spectators serves as a reminder that games are going on in memory of Tembo.
Tembo was on the soccer club team his freshman year. He transferred from CMU, but the friendships he made at Pi Kappa Alpha remained strong. Sadly, his brothers learned that Tembo passed away from alcohol poisoning, which left them wondering what they could do to honor his memory. Knowing how much he enjoyed playing soccer, their answer was this tournament.
By evening, after hours of soccer games, there are just two teams left to battle in the finals. In the end, though, Woltersdorf says it’s not about who wins, it’s about raising money for a worthy cause. In memory of Tembo, the brothers pledge all registration fees, concession profits, and donations—totaling $1,250—to Gateway Rehab, a local nonprofit that assists those with substance-abuse problems and raises alcohol-abuse awareness.