Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The True Meaning Of Sports

A True Story Of Sports

I have seen this story before, but from coaching for 15 years and watching from the sidelines, it is a story that kids, and primarily parents need to read. Many parents need to understand the meaning of sports, and what it is they are teaching their kids by their actions from the sidelines. Most if not all of their kids are not going to college on a scholarship, will not be playing in college at all (other than intramurals), are not going pro, and are playing for competition and fun. Learning to compete is a critical lesson, but learning that the outcome is a live and die proposition is not.

Real Sports

Western Oregon University's girls' softball team was playing a critical game against Central Washington University. The game had playoff implications. Sara Tuchilsky, an unheralded senior player for Western Oregon stepped up to the plate in a 0-0 game with two runners on base and hit a home run over the center-field fence. Her coaches and teammates could not believe it; Sara had never hit a home run in her entire high school and college career. What a moment! Her first home run ever and it put her team in front 3-0 in this pivotal game.

Sara began to run the bases with pride but realized that in her excitement she had missed touching first base. So she turned to start back to first. While twisting, her knee somehow gave way and she collapsed in agony. She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach told her that, according to the rules, if anyone on the team tried to help her, she would be called out.

The umpires gathered and explained that Sara could be taken out of the game and a pinch runner called in to replace her, but the home run would have to count as a single and the pinch runner would go to first base where Sara was crumpled on the ground in pain. Western Oregon coach Pam Knox didn't know what to do. "She was going to kill me if we sub and take the home run away. But at the same time I was concerned for her."

Mallory couldn't believe that Sara was going to be robbed of this home run.

Central Washington's first baseman, Mallory Holtman, was horrified by what she saw happening right before her eyes. She couldn't believe that Sara was going to be robbed of this home run. She approached the umpire and asked about an idea. While Sara's own teammates could not help her, could her opponents assist her in any way? The umpires explained that there was no rule against Mallory helping.

Keep in mind that this three-run home run at that point in the game was a deciding factor in keeping Mallory's team out of the playoffs. They had to win that game. This did not stop Mallory from carrying out her plan. As stunned spectators rose to their feet to watch, Mallory and Central Washington's shortstop, Liz Wallace, put their arms under Sara's legs, Sara put her arms around their shoulders, and they carried Sara around the base paths, stopping to let her touch each base with her good leg.

"The only thing I remember," Sara explained, "is that Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt. I told her it was my right leg and she said, `OK, we're going to drop you down gently and you need to touch it with your left leg,' and I said 'OK, thank you very much.' She said, `You deserve it, you hit it over the fence,' and we all kind of just laughed."

Mallory and Liz explained after the game that they weren't thinking about the playoff spot, and didn't consider the gesture something others wouldn't do. "We just wanted to help her," said Liz.

As the trio reached home plate, the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.

Central Washington coach Gary Frederick, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship "unbelievable." Sara's homerun led to Western Oregon's 4-2 victory and Central Washington was, in fact, eliminated from playoff contention as a result.

After the game Mallory remarked, "In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much. It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."


  1. This story is turning out to be one outstanding model of true sportsmanship. When our students have the character to step forth and do the right things, it lifts humanity to a higher plane. I wish there are more of these stories to tell. I am collecting them on my site as well.