By Teresa Varley
Ping pong balls were flying wildly on one side of the room, while on the other there was serious focus at the pool tables as Steelers players let their competitive juices flow at In The Pocket With Charlie Batch, an event that benefits the Best of the Batch Foundation.
Players challenged guests to both games, as well as poker, with nothing on the line but pride. And when you team professional athletes against their fans, pride is a big thing.
"You see so much competitiveness among players on our team, even shooting a ball of tape into a trash can, guys are so competitive," said Batch. "I wanted to put on an event that brings out the competitive spirit of our players and the fans and see who has bragging rights. Guys were getting ready for it last week and putting finishing touches on their skills. Bragging rights are at stake when you have guys like this. Everyone wants to be the best."
But the competition really picked up when teammates went against each other.
"It's wonderful to see them here having fun," said Latasha Wilson, the foundation's executive director. "They wanted to play each other to see who is who because they have the little battle going on in the locker room."
Punter Dan Sepulveda was tabbed as the favorite at ping pong by Batch and he didn't disappoint, taking on teammates and guests and handling the challenges.
"He said that. That was nice of him," said Sepulveda about getting the praise from Batch. "I grew up playing. I really enjoy it. I have fun doing it. I am here to have fun. That's what this event is about, come out and have fun and support a good cause. I came to Charlie's event when I was a rookie and had a great time so when it comes around again, of course I am going to be here. To come out and have fun and support a good cause, it's easy to come here."
While it was all fun and games, the purpose of the night was to have "Stars Align For Literacy," with Batch's reading and computer literacy program the main beneficiary of the event. Guests were asked to bring a book to donate to the program, with a Dr. Suess theme prevailing.
"This event is one of the most important events we have all year," said Wilson. "We only do one fundraiser. Our biggest thing is our computer lab and reading literacy. This year we would like for our building to become a registered SAT site location. It's very expensive to do that for the software and firewall protection so you can't get hackers. With all of the support tonight it will help the lab grow and for other opportunities for kids in the City of Pittsburgh."
The event also included a silent and live auction, featuring unique items and Steelers jerseys.
To view a full photo gallery by Teresa Varley, click on In The Pocket and go to Off the Field.
Click ot donate to the Best of the Batch Foundation.