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In Case You Were Wondering Why

May 22, 2012 - Al Stephenson
I really do love sports. As a participant, a spectator or just reading about athletic contests, I spend a good deal of time in the world of sports. In case you were wondering why I have such feelings toward "games" let me give you the Mohawk-McComb district softball tournament game as exhibit A.

My wife and I spent the weekend with our daughter in Lynchburg, VA taking in a minor league baseball game among other activities. We managed to watch the manager of the Wilimington Blue Rocks get tossed from the game before an inning began in which nothing out of the ordinary took place. I found out later that the exchange involved a play from the previous night. Apparently the manager was still upset about it and couldn't let it go.

This event is not what I like about sports though some would consider it amusing. People sometimes forget that sports are just a game and really not that important in life. They have their place, but sports should include learning experiences that people can use for the rest of their lives. Just when you think life values are forgotten along comes a seemingly insignificant high school softball game with a postgame exchange that will long be remembered by those in attendance.

Just a few days before the game, the Mohawk school community was rocked with the news of a car accident that claimed the life of Mohawk senior Audrey Perkins. Audrey was a classmate and friend to the Mohawk senior softball players, but despite their grief the game would go on. In a thrilling contest, Mohawk managed to plate a couple of runs late and won the game 2-0. The winner of the game and the score will eventually be forgotten, but not the moments after the contest had ended.

McComb had just one senior on their roster, but it was Abbie Joy's idea to give something to the Mohawk players to let them know that their loss of a friend was felt by everyone. The typical postgame handshakes were abandoned. Instead the McComb players presented Mohawk's players with flowers and a wristband with the initials AP embroidered on it. Hugs replaced handshakes and tears were shed by a lot of people in the ballpark. It was a heartwarming display of sportsmanship that will last a lifetime for those involved.

Now you know why I love sports.

The view from my seat suggests that Mohawk people should be rightfully proud of their players for showing strength during a time of sorrow. McComb folks should be equally proud of their players as they have obvioulsy learned more from playing sports than how to hit, run and throw.

The quote from one of the Mohawk players concerning the gesture bestowed upon them by McComb players says it best. She simply said, "I'll never ever forget this."


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