SCRANTON -- The sixth annual Jamie Kotula Kickoff Classic started this weekend in Scranton. It honors the former soccer player who lost his life tragically while he was driving to school in 2011.
The tournament at Marywood University named after him brings some of the best local high school soccer teams together for some early September competition.
Kotula's father said it helps him remember Jamie with a smile.
"We're never going to get over it, but because of our faith family and friends and all the support of our family and friends it has made it much more tolerable," John Kotula said.
The money raised goes toward the Jamie Kotula foundation. The foundation has hauled in more than $125,000 in scholarships and donations to families who have faced similar tragedies. It started as a scrimmage tournament in 2011 and is now a community event.
"Jamie was such a presence to his high school and family that we love seeing all these kids playing soccer and competing," John Kotula said.
Joseph Dodgson coached Jamie at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore. He said Jamie's spirit and humor was infectious to his teammates and also his coaches.
"One time a kid said I wasn't a popular kid and Jamie came up to him and says you're not very popular? He said you're my best friend from this point on and the kid said from that point on the school looked at me as Jamie's best friend," Joseph Dodgson said.
This is why the Jamie Spirit award is so important. In the spring, each team names one player that is a leader on and off the field.
"He was the best thing that ever happened to any team. He was just so uplifting all the time. He would help people that weren't doing so well," Dodgson said.
The tournament helps those who aren't doing so well, in the spirit of Jamie Kotula, a soccer fan, and a popular teammate.
For more information on the Jamie Kotula Foundation you can visit this website.