Judges beat Women Lawyers again in light-hearted game to benefit YWCA



by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The Judges team extended their winning streak at the 36th Annual Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) versus Judges charity softball game last Saturday, but did not win by much.

The 2 to 1 victory of the judges’ team, which now includes players who originally played for the Women Lawyers, was not out of the ordinary.  Even the Western Region page of the WLAM website says about the 2018 game,  “Even though the judges normally win, we look forward to this event every June.”

Winning or losing is not precisely the point anyway, since the game, played at Fifth Third Ball Park, is to benefit the YWCA?West Central Michigan and its many programs to help women.

“We at the YWCA always feel like the true winners as all the proceeds help make our services for victims of domestic and sexual violence possible,” said Amber Jones, Development and Communications Coordinator for the YWCA. “The numbers are still coming in but it's looking like close to $20,000 raised this year for us. Over the course of the game's 36-year history, they've raised over $300,000 for us - truly amazing!”

Paralegal Charlie Campbell, who manages a legal assistance program for the YWCA started in 2016 (see Grand Rapids Legal News 7/15/2016), was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the game.

 That program, which was part of the reason the YWCA West Central Michigan won this year’s Liberty Bell Award at Law Day on May 1, augmented the YWCA’s program serving victims of domestic and sexual violence by adding legal assessment and assistance.

Another point of the game is for spectators and players to have fun. Those who pay the fairly low admission price to the game ($15) are also allowed to stay for the enjoyable Whitecaps game which follows.

After the Women Lawyers versus Judges game is the Law versus Order Charity Chow Down contest to see whether the prosecutors team, led by veteran Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker (who has been risking food illness since he was an assistant prosecutor) can eat more hot dogs than law enforcement officers, this year from the West Side of Grand Rapids. A Game of Thrones battle theme allowed for many lame porcelain throne jokes.

Kelly Brushaber and Nikole Canute co-chaired the softball game committee.

Also adding to the fun were announcers Jennifer Puplava of Mika Meyers and the Hon. James Fisher, retired, who is Of Counsel at Dickinson Wright. Few escaped the good-natured mocking of the two from up in the announcers’ box.

Puplava’s firm, Mika Meyers, was one of two “All-Star Team” sponsors, the second being Warner Norcross + Judd. “Hall of Fame” sponsors included Dickinson Wright, FindLaw, Foster Swift Collins & Smith, and Kendall Electric.

Jennifer Tello of the Oppenhuizen Law Firm coached the Woman Lawyers while Judge Sara Smolenski of the 63rd District Court led the Judges team to victory in a game that was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning. Though by then there was already a bit of drizzle, everyone was pleased that at least the game ended before the full downpour later on.



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