A little boy who loved sports was remembered Wednesday in a first-of-its-kind honor for Libertyville Elementary District 70.
Antonio "Tony" Borcia would have been a fifth grader this year at Butterfield School. The 10-year-old died last summer when he was struck by a boat after falling off an inner tube on Petite Lake.
His No. 7 jersey was retired in a ceremony during a basketball tournament in which the two fifth grade boys teams at the school played against each other. As Tony would have been on one of those teams, the decision was made that it would be fitting to honor his memory as a Butterfield Bulldog.
It's the only jersey District 70 has retired, officials said.
Beyond being a sports enthusiast, Tony was someone fellow students gravitated toward and wanted to be friends with, according to Principal Candice Kehoe.
"The stories the students shared were ones that portrayed Tony as a leader who really cared about other students," she said.
The tournament is held for all the boys and girls teams from all four District 70 elementary schools. Wednesday was special because the Butterfield girls teams also faced each other, providing a concentration of school spirit and spectators, Kehoe said.
Family members were introduced for the courtside ceremony before the final game conducted by Pat Krech, a physical education teacher and coach. He brought the school together on the first day of class this year by telling students to remember how Tony lived and to honor his memory.
"Overall, they've been amazing," Kehoe said of the students. "At this point, what we're seeing and hearing are good memories of him. Happy thoughts."
Students sold green and gold "Tip Off for Tony" T-shirts at the games featuring several of his many nicknames. Proceeds will be used for a contribution in his memory.
As part of the ceremony, cheerleaders did a special cheer and the school choir performed. Tony's father and two sisters spoke to the crowd.
A spotlight was aimed at the framed jersey, which was hung next to the scoreboard where it will remain. Kehoe said every student goes to the gym throughout the week and, in a sense, Tony "will be there every day" with them.
David Hatyina of Bartlett has been charged by Lake County authorities with five counts of operating a watercraft while under the influence that resulted in death, and four counts of reckless homicide in connection with Tony's death. Hatyina is free on bond pending a hearing April 9.