The Hoosac Valley community is mourning the loss of 18-year-old Tori Rumbolt. The outstanding three-letter athlete was found dead early Thursday morning.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Hoosac Valley High School softball team, family and friends remembered their former teammate on Friday with a ceremony at Russell Field.
The 1 p.m. ceremony was initially supposed to precede a softball game, but the game itself was rescheduled. Still, players from Hoosac and other area schools, schoolmates, friends and family turned out to pay their respects to Tori Rumbolt.
The body of Rumbolt, 18, of Cheshire, was found in a wooded area near Oak Turn, off upper East Hoosac Street in Adams, early Thursday morning after she went missing the day before. State police helicopters and a search dog had been used in attempt to locate her.
During Friday's ceremony, the scoreboard flashed "7" across the score and inning columns in honor of Rumbolt's number when she played softball. Her teammates released balloons in which they had written personal messages for Rumbolt and her parents spoke briefly about the need for everyone to support each other moving forward.
Softball coach Morgan Shafer, who also spoke Friday, said her team kept its regular practice time on Thursday, but the focus was not on pitching and hitting.
"We just sat and talked about what we remembered about Tori," Shafer said Thursday evening. "And we thought about different ways we could honor her throughout the season and especially at our home game tomorrow."
Rumbolt, who graduated last year from Hoosac Valley, was a three-sport athlete, playing soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring. Many of the girls on this spring's Hoosac softball team were her teammate on multiple teams a year ago.
Word of her disappearance spread Wednesday night through social media, Shafer said. Early Thursday morning, she received a call from one of her players who learned that Rumbolt's body had been found.
"Tori was just a bright individual who was always bubbly and energetic and just full of happiness," Shafer said. "She was a great athlete but also just a great person and a great teammate. She was always there for the girls and me and the entire team."
Rumbolt's basketball coach remembered her Thursday as a hard-nosed competitor.
"She was obviously a key part of our team last year and throughout her career and was a very hard worker, a tough kid," Ron Wojick said. "She used to be really strong for us defensively, taking the charge — that sort of thing."
"She was one of those players who brought a certain toughness to the team," Wojick said.
Off the court, she provided quiet leadership.
"Tori was more low key and more quiet at times," Wojick said. "She could be funny or joking like with any of the kids. ... She was definitely more reserved, I think would be the best word."
Rumbolt, who listed "police officer" as her dream job on an iBerkshires.com player information form last winter, was awarded a Cheshire Police Association Scholarship at graduation last spring.
On Thursday morning as news of her death reverberated through the Hoosac Valley community, some of Wojick's players contacted him, and he offered his home as a meeting place during the school vacation week.
"I think it's important for kids to support each other and have adults that can be supportive," he said. "I've always felt one of the things you really need to do as a teacher or a coach — because I've seen it in teaching as well — is No. 1 be there for your kids, whether students in a class or a team on the field or in the gym.
"And No. 2, you really can use these situations as life lessons to teach from ... to try to help kids understand how difficult life can be and let them know there are a lot of resources and things and people you can use to deal with issues that come up."
Wojick said he expects Hoosac Valley to put more formal support in place for students and alumni at the school.
"This was just one of my players who called me and said, 'Do you know about it?' and I just offered this if any of the players wanted to get together and talk about things," he said.
The softball team hopes its ceremony on Friday can be part of the community's grieving process.
"She was a great athlete, but I'd really emphasize what a great person she was," Shafer said. "Everyone remembers her big personality. But she was a phenomenal athlete on top of it — three sports, a leader in all of them.
"I just always thought she was outstanding from the moment I met her."
Updated with comments from softball team at 9:43 p.m.
Updated with remembrance ceremony Friday at 4 p.m.