The annual Bedan Club golf outing has been going on for more than 20 years, but this year’s event had a larger tournament than most.

“This year is the largest turn out we have had in along time with nearly 120 golfers and we all know that it is because of Bill Prokup,” chairman Jeff Borelli said. ‘Bill was a huge part of the St. Bede community, St. Bede softball and was always there to help anyone who needed it. This was a chance for a lot of people too show their appreciation to him.”

The proceeds from this year’s outing will go to the pavilion being built at St. Bede in Prokup’s memory. The Bedan club has committed $20,000 to the project.

“Bill and I chaired this event for three years and it was a lot of fun and what people don’t realize is that the Bedan club funds a lot of the things that the auction doesn’t cover for the school and helps out with things that the school needs and the budget doesn’t allow like the pavilion,” said St. Bede golf coach Tom Payton, who was a long-time friend of Prokup. “That it is for Bill just makes today that much more special. It was great to see people here who have been playing in it for 20 years and then to see people here specifically because of Bill like his former players, family and friends.”

Prokup’s family said he would have loved the pavilion but not the attention of the event.

“He would have loved the turnout today and the fact that it was going to something to help St. Bede but would have been uncomfortable with all the attention of it being named for him,” Prokup’s daughter, Bekki Root said. “I think the pavilion will be an awesome place for the softball and baseball teams to use and also will be a great addition to the homecoming celebration and he would have loved that and been honored to have it named for him.”

Her sister, Barbi, was also excited about the turnout.

“I think the amount of people that turned out today was a testament to how much my Dad meant to the St. Bede community and how much he has loved and supported the sports here at St. Bede since he graduated,” Barbi Prokup said. “He would have been so proud to be able to help give something like this to the St. Bede community because he supported all Bruin sports and activities.”

Former Bruin golfer and Prokup’s nephew, Adam Lenkaitis, said Prokup helped many Bruin sports.

“People didn’t realize what he did for the golf programs behind the scenes,” Prokup’s nephew, Adam Lenkaitis said. “Many people think he just was involved in football and softball but anytime the golf team needed anything he was there to help us get it. I am so proud of the Bruin community to have come out in force like this in support of something in his honor.”

Long-time St. Bede girls basketball coach Tom McGunnigal said Prokup would have enjoyed the St. Bede community having a place to gather.

“Guys with a spirit like Bill had bring people together and that’s what happened today and this has to be one of the best outings in the 23 years of its existence,” McGunnigal said. “That is an absolute testament to Bill. Bill would not have wanted his name on it but would have loved it and seen it as a place for people to gather and to come together and that is what Bill was all about.”

Mike Stariha, who was an assistant coach the year Prokup led the St. Bede softball team to the state tournament, said the support shows Prokup’s impact.

“This pavilion would have meant a lot to Bill,” Stariha said. “He was a special man and I think back to what I have learned over the years and Bill had the ability to balance courage and consideration when he coached and was very proud of what he did at St. Bede. It is very fitting that this pavilion will be there in his honor. The turnout shows you how well respected Bill was at St. Bede. It is sad that we have to have this, but the support shows you what a special person he was.”

I was privileged enough to coach with Bill and have him as my brother-in-law and I was proud to be a part of this event.

I spent a lot of time with Bill and I learned a lot of important things such as how to treat people (Bill made everyone feel special) and of course the Bedan way he was so proud of.

I will always be thankful that Bill came into my life when he did and never understand why he had to leave when he did, and perhaps that is one of the many things I can contemplate on the many occasions that I will sit in the Bill Prokup Pavilion.

Don Baldin can be reached at 220-6939, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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