The birth of Worthington softball as it has become today started with a simple question in the summer of 1993.

The birth of Worthington softball as it has become today started with a simple question in the summer of 1993.

"Mr. B, will you help us this summer?"

Jack Brandenburg clearly remembered that day while sitting in a glass-encased room next to the pool inside the Worthington Community Center. The Worthington Classic on Saturday at McCord Park, his brainchild that is now in its seventh season, was 10 days away. The question came from teammates of his oldest daughter, Katie. They were looking for a summer recreational league coach.

"And so being a sucker, I mean, being a concerned parent, I went, 'OK,'" Brandenburg said. "And so I coached them here at Parks and Rec."

This summer will mark Brandenburg's 15th as the Worthington Parks and Recreation's softball coordinator, and everyone involved in Worthington softball now seems to know who he is. He's the man who taught Kilbourne second baseman Jordan Brown how to hit left-handed. He once "chewed out" Thomas third baseman Paige Stewart for wearing sunglasses while playing the infield. Before Thomas second baseman Miriam Said set the program record for steals in a season (41), she worked with Brandenburg. His youngest daughter, Jill, is Kilbourne's ace.

"I remember playing with a lot of the girls that are now my competition and basically having fun," Said said. "It wasn't as competitive. And Jack Brandenburg, he was the top dog back then. He was definitely a role model. He brought all the girls out to come and play and even if you weren't the best player, he would encourage you to come out and play. He was definitely one of the reasons I wanted to play softball."

A year after Brandenburg began coaching, he accepted his current position as a coordinator and it wasn't long after that he had enough dedicated players in the recreational league he oversaw that he was able to create a 10-and-under travel team called the Worthington Spirit.

When former Thomas coach Joe Abraham founded the Buckeye Heat travel team in 2000 as the Worthington Heat, he connected with Brandenburg for potential players.

"The group that's over at Thomas, every one of those seniors I've sent special time with," Brandenburg said. "That whole group."

Those Thomas seniors were an integral part of helping the Cardinals win the program's first district championship when they were sophomores in 2007. That year they also helped Thomas repeat as OCC-Central Division champion.

Success like that seemed nothing more than a pipedream when Brandenburg started in 1993. Kilbourne's program was two years old, and Thomas had a history of being average at best. Brandenburg had chosen to leave the corporate world the year before and in softball finally he found what 20 years in business couldn't give him -- something to which he could commit heart and mind.

"If they would come on they're own time, I would give my time and show them more facets of the game," Brandenburg said. "The goal was to teach them the game and to show them that they can truly enjoy the sport and to get them to where they wanted to play further."

When Brandenburg taught Brown to hit left-handed, she was spending nearly every day in the summer at McCord Park. Her father, Breck, also worked for the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department, and he would bring her along. For Brown and her friends, it was like a softball buffet.

"(Brandenburg) would always get the pitching machine out for us," Brown said. "We had connections."

Most of her friends don't play anymore, but they used to spend hours at the fields at McCord Park in the summer, and then when they tired of that, there was always the playground on the other side of the parking lot.

"If you bring up McCord Park to (former players), they'll be like, 'Oh yes, remember that time when we played,'" Brown said. "I not only grew up (at McCord Park) playing softball, but at the Rec center, too."

The year before the first Worthington Classic, Brandenburg approached Abraham, who was in his first year coaching at Thomas. He told him that the fields at McCord Park would be perfect for a one-day event they could call the Worthington Classic.

In addition to Thomas and Kilbourne, attending this year will be Mount Vernon and Westerville South as well as seventh-and eighth-grade Worthington middle school teams. The U-10 Worthington Spirit will play the U-10 Westerville Warcats and there will also be a men's adult fastpitch exhibition.

"I look forward to (the Worthington Classic)," said Kilbourne centerfielder Taylor Lincicome, whose first softball experience was trying out for the U-12 Worthington Spirit at McCord Park. "It's always so much fun. It's not like going to Lancaster or OSU (for tournaments). It's our own thing."