When I read this article it brought tears to my eyes. In this day and age, so many are concerned about WINNING that they tend to forget that in the end it’s “just a game”. As a coach, and a parent, I would hope that my children and players who react in the same way. My thoughts are that it not all about the winning, it’s about sportsmanship!
They Touched ’Em All
If Hollywood ever runs out of ideas for tearjerker sports movies, all they have to do is read the sports wire for stories like this to come along.
Last month, Central Washington University’s women’s softball team hosted Western Oregon. At stake was a bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs. In the second inning, Western had two runners on base when 5-foot-2-inch senior right fielder Sara Tucholsky came to the plate. A career .153 hitter (.088 this season), Sara did something she’d never done in four years: smacked a pitch over the wall.
As the team whooped it up and high-fived the runners ahead of her, Western’s coach Pam Knox looked around. “Where’s Sara?” She was lying in a heap near first base.
In her excitement, Sara had missed the bag. As she darted back to touch it, her knee popped. In agony, she could barely move, let alone run. For a home run to count, a player must touch all the bases with no assistance from the team. “Our first-base coach was telling me ’I can’t touch you or you’ll be out,’” Sara told The Oregonian. “’I can’t help you.’”
The umpires told Knox if she put in a pinch runner, Sara would be awarded a single and two RBIs. “It was her only home run in four years. She’s going to kill me if we sub and take it away,” Knox said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Then a voice behind her said, “Excuse me, would it be okay if we carried her around?” It was senior Mallory Holtman from Central. The umps said nothing in the rule book prohibited the opposition from helping her. Holtman and a teammate picked Sara up in a fireman’s carry and walked her around the bases, pausing at each one so she could touch the bag.
The stadium was in tears. The entire Western Oregon team was sobbing. Coaches were crying. At home plate, the two Central girls passed Sara into the arms of her teammates, and the crowd gave them a standing ovation.
“We’re never bigger than the game,” Knox said afterward. “We forget that because as coaches, we’re always trying to get to the top. But I will never, ever forget this moment. It’s changed me. And I’m sure it’s changed my players.”
Sara will accompany the team in its bid for an NCAA berth. Holtman intends to get a graduate degree in sports administration. Her dream is to become a coach.
[sports.espn.go.com, 4/28/08; statesmanjournal.com, 4/28/08; oregonlive.com, 4/30/08]