By Lora Scripps
On Saturday, organizers of the 25th annual CASA Mud Volleyball Tournament dedicated this year’s event to a man who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty — the late Leroy Aderholt.
When the tournament started 25 years ago at the Athens Recreation Center as a way to raise money for Care Assurance System for the Aging and Homebound, a lot of people were apprehensive. Yet, the event, now held at Swan Creek Park, is still going strong. Organizer Helen Carter said it has grown to the point they had to put a cap on the number of teams in the tournament. Today, up to 90 teams can take part in the event and there is a waiting list. Anywhere between $8,000-$10,000 is raised during the one-day event. People come from across the nation to take part in the tournament, which is considered a “big operation.” Carter said it takes at least three months to organize.
Leroy, a NASA civil service retiree, is one person who worked hard to ensure the event’s success. He continued that work for many years before his death in November at age 82.
Through the years, Leroy worked beside two of his pals — Gene Barbre and Herb Lenox. The trio was known around the county as “The Three Amigos.” They met in Sunday school class at West Highland Baptist Church and were instant friends. In fact, two of the men also played on the West Highland Mud Volleyball Team.
On Thursday, event organizers Carter and Jennifer White as well as Barbre and wife Martha, Lenox and wife Joyce and Glenn Aderholt, Leroy’s son, met to reminisce and remember Leroy.
“In the early years, there were so many things these guys had to work out,” White said. “I remember the year they built the showers.”
“Yeah,” said Lenox, who helped with the event for many years. “We made some stand-up alone, outside showers. Mud volleyball was one of the dirtiest things you have ever seen — a beautiful mess.”
Lenox and Barbre agree that Leroy, who was quite natured, was indispensible. “He was ready to attack any problem that came by, whatever it was,” said Lenox, who knew Leroy for more than 45 years. “He was a radical leader.”
“A doer,” added Barbre, a friend of Leroy’s for 53 years. “Anything they asked us to do, he was involved. He would always take the lead and get us involved.”
Glenn said his dad was “sitting on ready.”
“We were the helping crew,” Lenox said.
The Three Amigos were also involved in a number of other organizations across the county. Glenn recalled his father and Barbre working countless hours at Julia Newman Elementary School during May Day. The trio also worked with a disaster relief group, built wheelchair ramps for those in need and volunteered to do anything else just to lend a hand.
In their spare time, they fished. “You ought to see the three of us in one boat trying to fly fish,” Lenox said, adding they were also known as “Fiddle, Faddle and Fud.”
Barbre said the Amigos friendship flourished because they were all around the same age. “Some of us good looking,” he said with a smile. “Some of us not.”
All joking aside, Lenox and Barbre couldn’t be prouder to dedicate this year’s event to Leroy. “He was a standout,” Lenox said. “Everybody knew him. He would do anything and everything you asked.”
Barbre said Leroy Aderholt was an unusual person. “He was mild-mannered. He was always involved and he was always upfront,” he said.
“If he said something you could take it to the bank,” White said. “He was very dependable. There are a lot of fun stories if we could remember all of them. It was a lot of hard work, but we had a lot of fun times.”
Glenn said he is proud the group decided to dedicate the event to his dad. “I appreciate it,” he said. “This type of thing is what he lived for. Since he retired, this is the type of thing he focused on. This is what he did.”
“When you a do fundraiser, I don’t care what kind it is or where it is, you have got to have a good foundation,” said Carter. “And these Three Amigos gave it a great foundation so that someone else could continue it on. You always want to do something so that regardless of what you do, someone else can come in after you and they can’t tear it down. That is what these guys did.”