I've told you that I serve as the assistant varsity coach in my community of Swartz Creek. It's a very busy time of year, which is why I have not posted an article lately. Today however I had to write about one of the most emotional and beautiful moments I've ever experienced in softball. The thing is that it really had very little to do with softball.
The picture was taken last night between our league opening double header. Jamie is on the left with her dad Jim and teammate Hailey, her lifelong friend. Although it may not seem unlike any other picture you might see of players and parents at the ball field, there's much more to it than meets the eye.
Last September Jim was in a horrific motor cycle accident that left him fighting for his life. It has been an extremely emotional and difficult process for Jamie, who is kind and gentle soul, will be graduating this year, great student and member of the Peers Who Care Club. Jamie had to take time off from the fall softball workouts we were conducting as she attended to her father. She really wanted to continue working out, but her emotions were getting the best of her.
After a few months Jim's prognosis was slowly improving and Jamie was becoming more able to deal with everything. She began working out more and we could all see her returning to her self, a young lady always smiling and happy to be around her teammates and an absolute pleasure to coach. During this time her softball skills were improving as well, since she was now able to focus more on the game she loves.
Jim has come a long way. He suffered traumatic brain injuries and still has a long way to go with therapy and rehabilitation. He has had to learn how to do many things again like feeding himself, walking and talking, etc. But, he's in good hands with a wonderful and loving daughter like Jamie and of course her family.
With assistance he has recently been able to go places for short periods of time. Hailey told me Jamie took Jim out to lunch the other day. Activities like that make him tired and he has to rest often and limit such occasions.
So, the team traveled 20 minutes to Linden to play a double header. We begin our warm-ups about an hour before the game. The first inning began with our girls jumping all over Linden scoring 10 runs. Jamie was hitting in the #6 spot and was hit by a pitch. A few batters later she scored. Moments later her fellow outfielder Tabby smashed a 3 run homer.
Little did she know that as she and her team went to home plate to congratulate Tabby, her family had just arrived with Jim. She had no idea that he would be there. They sat behind the backstop next to our dugout. As the team headed back into the dugout she turned and saw him. I talked with Tabby briefly from just outside the dugout, then wrote some notes in my scorebook. When I looked into the dugout the entire team was crying. I had no idea what was going on.
As I walked into the dugout with our team still up to bat I learned what was going on. Everybody on the team has watched Jamie struggle with the accident and Jim's slow recovery. The tears were tears of joy, a strange emotional response we humans have crying in moments of happiness. It was beautiful.