A charming and strong-willed child with a killer smile, Tyler Alitz attended Saint James Seton Grade School from kindergarten to eighth grade. Blessed with athletic talent, he played everything from basketball, football, and baseball.
A star from a young age, Tyler began playing baseball at the YMCA and when he was old enough to play in little league, he played second base for the club team Omaha Pacesetters where he remained until the age of 14. He played spring through summer with the Omaha Pacesetters, traveling to many tournaments, going from Kansas City every year during Memorial Day weekend, to Missouri, Oklahoma, and he went as far as Florida.
Katie Alitz, Tyler’s mother, says Tyler most likely chose Roncalli Catholic because of the small class sizes, the opportunity to play sports and participate in other activities, it was just the right fit. But Tyler’s ties to Roncalli Catholic go beyond a desire to participate. Katie’s father, Phil Gradoville, was involved with Rummel High School from its inception serving as athletic director, teacher, and coach.
During Tyler’s years at Roncalli Catholic, he continued to be involved in basketball and baseball. He was a three-year starter in basketball and a four-year starter in baseball. His senior year he even tried football.
“He was a very aggressive player, strong, and determined,” said Katie. “Some of the coaches and the seniors pulled him aside in the halls, and they persuaded him to play football his senior year.”
Before becoming the Athletic Director of Roncalli Catholic, then Coach Jim Meister coached Tyler in varsity basketball from his sophomore through his senior year. “He was a very hardworking kid who was very dedicated to the sport. He would often come get my keys and open up the gym on Sunday night. Tyler and my son, Cole, would come up here and shoot. He was a kid that pushed the envelope at times, but that’s what made him such a special player and such a special kid.”
Katie still remembers Coach JJ Stoffel in the gym with Tyler after school. JJ would be underneath the basketball hoop and Tyler would be shooting free throws.
During his senior year at Roncalli Catholic, Tyler was offered a scholarship to play baseball at the junior college, Garden City Community College, located in Garden City, Kansas. Katie says she remembers he was very excited and proud, though she was apprehensive since it was seven hours away.
“I tried to persuade him to consider some other possible schools that were a little closer in radius to Omaha. He refused. He said it was the right fit for him and he wanted to go play for that school and that coach.”
He graduated from Roncalli Catholic in 2014 and went on to at Garden City Community College, Garden City, Kansas with aspirations to eventually play Division 1college baseball and become an athletic trainer.
“He did not show his potential in his early academic years,” Katie Alitz said. “It was not his strength. It’s not that I think he couldn’t have, I just don’t think he put full effort into his academic studies. However, he turned it all around once he went to college. He focused on his studies more and he excelled both years at Garden City. I do not remember his GPA, but he was over 3.0 in college. We were very proud of him”
In the spring of 2014, Tyler fulfilled his baseball dream when he was offered a Division 1 Scholarship to play baseball at Morehead State, Kentucky.
Tyler Alitz passed away on May 21, 2014, on his way home from college.
The Tyler Alitz Memorial Softball Tournament was established in the fall of 2014, a few months after he passed. Tim Goodrich, ‘12, went all through grade school and high school with Tyler. After Tyler’s passing, Tim came up with the idea to have a coed softball tournament in Tyler’s name to honor him. The family added onto that idea and said: “Let’s make something of this and raise the money and give back.” It became a memorial tournament where then the tournament gives back to Roncalli Catholic.
The first tournament took place in October of 2014 at Kelley Hills Field with a handful of teams. This coed, slow-pitch softball tournament has continued year after year with friends of Tyler coming from Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and beyond. Since then, it has only grown, and now the tournament can only host 16 teams. Many of the volunteer umpires are Rummel alumni, the majority of the teams are made of Roncalli Catholic alumni and many of the volunteer workers are alumni parents, so it’s a Roncalli Catholic gathering in Tyler’s honor.
The $1,000 scholarship is awarded each year to a current freshman, sophomore or junior which supports tuition the following year. The students must apply for the scholarship, then a committee selects a winner. The scholarship is awarded during one of the baseball games in the summer.
“Every year we bring in a DJ that plays music all day. We bring in concessions and sell lunch, we have lots of raffle prizes to help raise money for the scholarship. We do give away more money. Every year we evaluate how much money we’ve made and where the money will go. One thousand dollars right off the bat goes to the scholarship. A portion of the proceeds go to the Archdiocesan Endowment Fund and then we give back to Roncalli Catholic Pride Baseball organization as well. We’ve given back between $15,000 and $20,000 over the last five and a half years.”
It’s been over five years since Tyler’s passing, and yet, his impact at Roncalli Catholic and beyond continues.
“I learned a lot about Tyler after he died, by the people that came and supported our family,” says Katie. Garden City is seven hours away and almost his entire baseball team that he played with him at Garden City came to the funeral. His coach was both at the wake service and the funeral. I received his uniform, which he was buried in. I also received his baseball hat. On the brim of his hat was written a quote that I’ll never forget. The quote was written in his handwriting with a Sharpie ‘Today is not past, tomorrow is not promised.’ Tyler lived each day to the fullest, he was very focused and determined and he enjoyed life.”
Tyler is survived by his parents, Katie and Joe Alitz, his two siblings, older brother Nick, Class of 2008, younger brother Tommy, Class of 2018 and newest nephew, Urban Tyler Alitz, born in June 2019 to Nick Alitz.