FORT MYERS, Fla. — A special volleyball tournament will be taking place this Saturday.
It’s in honor of a local man who passed away in a boating accident, and his daughter is playing on the team.
“We want to do everything you can to help. This was just a small thing that we could do for them.”
Inside the Grace Gym at Southwest Florida Christian Academy, preparations are being set. What may seem like an ordinary volleyball practice is actually the start to something bigger.
“We got a call from the Kutcher Foundation wanting to do something in Brent’s honor and, of course, we’re a tribe here at Florida Conquer and we really wanted to rally around the family and honor Brent’s legacy,” says JD Malone, Head Coach of the Florida Conquer Volleyball Club.
Brent Toms, a Maryland native turned Fort Myers resident, passed away in a boating accident in December 2020. His daughter, Hayden, plays for the Florida Conquer Volleyball Club. What started as a hobby has quickly grown into a passion, supported by the bond between her and her father.
“He was very much into sports- played it, watched it, and did it," says Jennyfer Toms, Brent's widow. "My daughter is a dancer so, for her, she’s like what can we do to make you into some sort of athlete? Volleyball- she’s super tall. We tried it, she loved it, she continued to play in high school, middle school, and now this is our first travel league and so we tried out and we made it and it’s because of him that we’re here.”
This Saturday, a little more will be on the line with a tournament named in Brent's honor. There will be two courts with one being standard volleyball, and the other a 4-vs-4 tournament. One team will even be traveling from Miami to take part.
"I think he would be completely honored," said Toms. "I think he’d be very honored and touched and he’s so humble I don’t think he realizes how many people’s lives that he’s touched and how many people love him and that this is all for him. I think he would just be absolutely thrilled and honored that he was so thought of.”
Since his passing, the Brent Tom’s Legacy Project has been named in his honor. Saturday’s tournament is just the beginning, with funds going toward a scholarship in Brent’s name.
“We’ve done other things to help the family out but this was something that we could really do and stamp Brent’s name on and really make it special for the family," Malone said.
“I know that she will be really happy to see everybody support the volleyball team and honor her father, but I’m sure it’s going to be super emotional," says Toms. "It’ll be super challenging for me but I hope everybody can come and show their support. It’s for a very good cause.”
Saturday’s tournament will be held at Southwest Florida Christian Academy at the Grace Gym starting at 10 a.m. You can find more information as well as make a donation to the Brent Toms Legacy Project online right here.