By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly 18 months since a fatal car accident took the lives of Washington High School students Derek Arvin and Zach Blubaum, but this weekend will be another chance for reflection and celebration of the short, but full lives the boys lived.
The second annual Blu-Chip 3v3 soccer tournament in honor of the two boys will take place Sunday morning at the Sports Complex. All of the proceeds above the expenses for the tournament will go to the scholarships in both boys names. Derek Arvin has a scholarship in his name and Zach has a Pay-It-Forward fund in his honor.
Shortly after the tragic car accident that claimed both boys lives, Allen Brown, who has a son who was in the same grade as Arvin and Blubaum, received a suggestion on a way to honor the boys from his younger son, J.J., about organizing the tournament. At first, Brown didn’t jump at the idea, but after a second suggestion from J.J., Brown called the parents and got everything rolling.
The fatal crash occurred on March 9 of last year, but Brown thought it was the right thing to do even with the close timeline.
“It was really close, but we thought we really needed to do something last year,” Brown said. “Everybody thought it was a great thing and thought it was awesome that we were going to try to do it annually and help the scholarship funds. We had great weather, which I think we’re going to have again this year. We attribute that to the boys up there looking down on us. Once it started and the day went by and it went real smoothly everyone thought it was a really good thing.”
The great community support during last year’s tournament and leading up to this year’s tournament was no surprise to Derek’s father, Ray Arvin. He said in his experience the community, including all through the athletic department has always been a family atmosphere.
“The support we have gotten hasn’t been shocking,” Arvin said. “We are thankful, it means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to the Blubaums and the Arvin family. It is very appreciated, but I guess the biggest compliment I can give Washington is I knew this would happen, so I’m not shocked at all. It’s real neat and great to see us come together as a big extended family.”
Like Ray Arvin, Gary Blubaum has seen the support the Washington community has provided and it’s something that these two families are extremely thankful for, but not at all surprised by.
“The best part for me was last year when everybody in the community gave their time and effort along with all the participants by just being there to show support,” Blubaum said.
Now with more than a year since the tragedy, the memory of the boys lives on throughout the Washington community and Brown said it has given everyone a chance to reflect on glowing personalities that both Derek and Zach possessed.
“It’s a time to keep remembering them and keep their memory alive of what they lived for,” Brown said. “Both of those boys, even though we class them together, they were very different, but both of them had one thing in common and that was Jesus Christ. They were both really involved in church activities, even without their parents. Both those boys lived it through their friends. Derek (Arvin) really stood out, because he was more of the quiet kind, but when he started talking about his religion, that was really a big thing. Zach (Blubaum) was always a jokester and I’ll always remember that and all the stories. With keeping the memory alive with what they lived for is the main thing to keep in people’s memory.”
Last year, the tournament had 24 teams and this year they will have 29 teams with a registration fee of $120 and each team can have a maximum of six players. The games will start at 9 a.m. at the Sports Complex, and will have 12 minute halves and a five-minute halftime. Brown also explained the name of the tournament was a specifically picked name. Zach often went by the nickname, “Blu”, a shortened version of his last name. Derek was very similar to his father and therefore earned the moniker, ‘chip off the old block’.
With both boys prominent with Washington athletics, especially soccer. Washington soccer coach Quintin Myers said the past year has been tough on the program.
“It’s a fun day to celebrate two guys who loved to play soccer,” Myers said. “It’s the same as it has been in the past — it’s always on their minds.”