Somerton’s greatest Spartan

A sign of love: Monsignor Joseph Garvin of Saint Christopher Parish blesses the new Andy Wallace Memorial Field and Scoreboard. The Andy Wallace Foundation has provided more than 30 full-tuition scholarships to Saint Christopher’s School in Andy’s name since 2001. PHOTO: KATE SHIELDS

Andy Wallace was a three-sport athlete for Somerton Youth Organization, playing soccer, basketball and baseball throughout the 1980s.

Wallace grew up on Milford Street and attended St. Christopher Elementary School, La Salle High School and St. Joseph’s University on a soccer scholarship. He was 27 and working as a pharmaceutical salesman when he died in November 2001 from complications of an accidental head injury.

In 2005, his friends established the Andy Wallace Foundation, which has done marvels in 11 years.

The foundation has funded 34 full-year tuition scholarships (representing 12 families) for students at St. Christopher, where Wallace graduated in 1988. It has also given $20,000 to St. Joe’s, $15,000 to St. Christopher for a technology project and $5,000 to refurbish batting cages at SYO, located at 1400 Southampton Road.

Last week, on Nov. 23, two days before the 15th anniversary of Wallace’s death, the foundation donated a state-of-the-art scoreboard in his memory to Somerton Youth Organization.

The green and white football scoreboard reads, “Andy Wallace Memorial Field. Home of the Somerton Spartans.”

Brian Hamill, founder and executive director of the foundation, called Wallace, his former teammate, “Somerton’s greatest Spartan.”

Monsignor Joseph Garvin, longtime pastor at St. Christopher Parish, described him as “the greatest Spartan of all time.”

Ben Barber, president of Somerton Youth Organization since 1981, choked up when he spoke about Wallace, whom he called a “great kid.”

The foundation is able to fund its projects thanks to the success of the annual Andy Wallace Memorial Golf Outing. There have been 14 in all.

The sign was accompanied by green balloons on an adjacent utility pole. SYO football players and cheerleaders and scholarship recipients joined Wallace’s family, friends and former teammates and coaches for a countdown to the sign’s unveiling. Confetti fell to mark the occasion.

On the field, there was a framed picture of Wallace in a tuxedo and his №7 La Salle soccer jersey.

Garvin, a classmate of Wallace’s dad, Joe, at La Salle High School, offered prayers and blessed the scoreboard.

Flowers were presented to Millie Wallace, Andy’s mom.

Afterward, all gathered in the SYO gym for a foundation fundraiser.

Joe Wallace remembers signing up his son for SYO sports as a 6-year-old in 1980. The elder Wallace became involved in SYO, serving as vice president under Barber.

“It was a really nice thing for them to put Andy’s name on the scoreboard,” Joe Wallace said. “It turned out very, very nice. Through the foundation, his legacy lives on.” ••