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Soccer tournament to honor Emilio Hoffman

In just its second year, the Emilio Hoffman Memorial Soccer Tournament has reached capacity.

With 16 teams total ready to compete Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8 and 9 — eight boys teams and eight girls teams — the fundraiser will fill the field at Reynolds High School, 1698 S.W. Cherry Park Road.

“After Emilio was killed (in the June 2014 Reynolds High School shooting), we put that tournament on as a way to honor and remember him, and we said at the time that we did not want this to be the last one,” said Allan Berry, coach of Reynolds Raiders soccer team. “Last year was smaller, so we said what we want to do is grow this tournament to eventually become a premier tournament that everyone will want to participate in.”

This second year seems to have already reached that goal, but they still want to do more.

“We really hope to just be able to grow the tournament, because Emilio was a competitive player,” said Jennifer Hoffman, Emilio’s mother and founder of Emilio Inc., which helps organize the tournament in his honor.

Berry noted that this tournament brings the school together.

“It’s a way for Reynolds High School to celebrate, recognize and remember him because soccer was really, really important to him,” he said. “It brings our school together, specifically the soccer program participants, into something really positive. This year, it’s growing in leaps and bounds.”

That growth includes some large sponsors, from Frito-Lay and Pepsi to the Portland Timbers.

“Everybody has really got behind this thing to make it a success,” Berry said.

Hoffman expects about 350 players, and at least that many viewers for each day of the tournament. But she also envisions more.

“We are at max this year, and we’re hoping to grow the tournament by another bracket next year, which would mean adding another eight teams,” she said. “We would have to extend it into a third day. Then the following year’s plan is to move to a different venue. Eventually we hope it’s just a huge, huge tournament.”

Keeping inclusivity in mind — one of the goals of Emilio Inc. — Hoffman said they tried to make the tournament affordable for those who participate.

“As the mom of a soccer player, it’s $700 to $800 for a team to play. The fee to enter Emilio’s is $350,” she noted. “We try to keep it down so people who want to participate can. It breaks down to $15 or $20 per person.”

Those fees benefit the Reynolds soccer team as well as future endeavors by Emilio Inc.

“Jennifer has been doing a fantastic job of keeping his memory alive by encouraging people to support one another and peer support to make sure no student is ever left alone or feels alone,” Berry said.

The proceeds also save a little to keep the team “looking good,” Berry added, something that was important to Emilio.

“Emilio liked to look good, so what we do with part of our fundraiser is we use a bunch of it to make sure our players look good, whether it be warm-up gear or game-day polos,” he said. Eventually they hope to purchase blazers, ties and Oxford shirts for game days.

“All this will help the program grow. Emilio is contributing to growing the program and helping us be successful,” Berry said.

With booths for mental health education and support, Hoffman hopes to continue spreading the word of Emilio Inc.

“We have some of the same returning teams, but probably half are new teams, if not more,” she said. “That just helps grow our organization as well, (along) with who Emilio was and what his organization is about.”

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