Last week, Sara Tucholsky, a 5-foot-2-inch softball player in her senior year for Western Oregon University, was playing in a big game with Central Washington University. Both teams were vying for the Division II NCAA playoffs. Sara, who was batting less than .200 all season, hit the ball over the fence with two runners on.
She had never hit a ball out of the park before, even in practice. She was so excited, she missed first base. Realizing this, she turned to go back but collapsed in agony as her knee gave out. Her first-base coach yelled that she had to crawl back to first base because if anyone on Sara’s team touched her, she’d be out and her home run would be nullified. Her coach encouraged her to try to crawl around the other bases to preserve her home run, but it was out of the question.
That’s when the star player on the other team, Mallory Holtman, asked the umpire if she and a teammate could carry Sara around the bases. It was an unprecedented request from an opponent fighting for a playoff berth, but the rules allowed it.
Without hesitation, Mallory and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Sara and carried her, lowering her to touch each base with her good leg. Tears poured down Sara’s cheeks. The first home run she had hit in her life and she thought she couldn’t have it until two players from the other team made sure she could.
To Mallory it was simple: “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much; it was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and deserved a home run.”
Mallory was right. It is just common decency. But it is uncommon valor.
All the coaches, players, and spectators who were stunned by this spontaneous act of sportsmanship; they wept. Mallory became a national hero.
Mallory’s team lost 4-2, but Mallory set a standard that blazed a trail. No one knew the National Media would be broadcasting this act of sportmanship and uncommon valor over every station Nationwide. This young girl rose above the game and set a standard for life.
Michael Josephson www.CharacterCounts.org