B y Derek Liebig
Two young men whose lives ended too early were remembered during a special ceremony at the Recreation Center fields Thursday evening.
In a brief, but emotional ceremony, the Whitehall Youth League honored Cole Rocque and Tommy Pollinger, both of whom died unexpectedly earlier this year.
The Rocque family received a plaque featuring a picture of each Youth League dedicated in memory of Cole.
A similar plaque was made for the Pollingers, who declined an invitation to attend.
After a few words by league president John Hoagland, who helped organize the event, members of the Youth League’s senior teams lined up along the first and third base foul lines and looked on as Kendra Rocque, Cole’s younger sister, threw out the ceremonial first pitch surrounded by family.
Displaying courage and an infectious smile, Kendra’s throw bounced over home plate and landed squarely in the catcher’s glove.
Time will tell if the throw provides any closure or aids in the healing process, but according to family it was a significant gesture on her part.
“We are very proud of her for doing this,” said Tobe Corcoran who is married to Cole’s mother Joyce. “It’ been hard because it was her big brother, its something that will affect us all of our lives.”
The ceremony was a time for memories and reflection.
Prior to the ceremony, friends and family of Rocque gathered in the parking lot and fondly recalled memories of Cole, such as the time he and his teammates danced to the “Thong Song” during practice before Hoagland, who coached both Rocque and Pollinger on his all-star teams, restored order.
The ceremony was also an educational opportunity for the kids, many of whom showed up to play a game, but perhaps learned a little about life in the process.
“We’re doing this to raise awareness. We want them to know if they are having a problem they can come to us,” Hoagland said.
Throughout the course of the season every team in the Youth League has worn patches with Rocque’s and Pollinger’s initials on the sleeves of their uniform.
Pollinger, a 2010 graduate of Whitehall High School, passed away in February, and Rocque, a 2008 graduate, died a little more than a month later.
Both young men were popular students at the school and were involved in athletics.
“If this helps just one kid, then it’s had a positive impact,” Hoagland said.