Friday, May 02, 2008

"Unbelievable" sportsmanship

Eucharistic Adoration tonight, 7:30-8:30 pm, SAA Church. Please note special time this week only!
Someone emailed me this article about a recent softball game which included an unprecendented act of sportsmanship.

PORTLAND, Ore. - With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence. But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when the missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single. Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count — an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky. The umpire said there was no rule against it.

So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her good leg.

"The only thing I remember is that Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt," Tucholsky said. "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." "We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people.'" "We didn't know that she was a senior or that this was her first home run," Wallace said Wednesday. "That makes the story more touching than it was. We just wanted to help her."

Holtman said she and Wallace weren't thinking about the playoff spot, and didn't consider the gesture something others wouldn't do. As for Tucholsky, the 5-foot-2 right fielder was focused on her pain. "I really didn't say too much. I was trying to breathe," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

"I didn't realize what was going on until I had time to sit down and let the pain relax a little bit," she said. "Then I realized the extent of what I actually did." "I hope I would do the same for her in the same situation," Tucholsky added. As the trio reached home plate, Tucholsky said, the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.

Central Washington coach Gary Frederick, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship "unbelievable." For Western Oregon coach Pam Knox, the gesture resolved the dilemma Tucholsky's injury presented."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. I didn't know what to do," Knox said.

Tucholsky's injury is a possible torn ligament that will sideline her for the rest of the season, and she plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in business. Her home run sent Western Oregon to a 4-2 victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs.

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


At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that coverage on CNN, and I thought it was a great story! Athletics is and should be about healthy competition, of course, but it should also be about doing the right things- win or lose. It should be about acknowledging and admiring both individual and group accomplishments.

When the injured player was interviewed, she said that that game was one she'll remember her entire life, not for hitting her first homerun and helping her team win the game, but for the tremendous sense of sportsmanship she experienced.

On another note- our dads who coach here at SAA (I know there are moms too, but my kids have only been coached by the dads to date) deserve a huge amount of credit for instilling values of sportsmanship in our youth. My son played a baseball game last weekend against the other boy's team from our school, and the competition was -let's say, "healthy!" The goal of each young boy was to hit that homerun to help his team win the game (and have winning team bragging rights come Monday morning). The goal of the coaches of both teams was to tie the game so each would have bragging rights to a battle well fought. At the end of the final inning, the score was tied. Way to go dads!

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I am more amazed that this is viewed as "unbelievable." What were the options here? Sub out the girl and take away her great accomplishment? Watch an obviously injured girl crawl along the bases? Barring a common sense judgement that would allow the umpire to call the run good in the case of injury, it seems to me that the only "right answer" would be to do exactly what the opposing team did.

A nice sweet story, yes. But why is "doing the right thing" viewed as so extraordinary in today's society?

At 6:03 PM, Blogger fran said...

The Wash. Post runs a feature in the Metro section, on Wednesdays, called "Random Acts."( I think it is only Wednesdays.... ) As the title suggests, the stories which are printed tell of good deeds and kind acts of every day citizens under ordinary and not so ordinary circumstances.

Last week's feature was preceded by this observation from the editor, " A curious development has come to our attention. We now get three times as many letters from readers who say they enjoy Random Acts, than we do submissions."

Rather telling, isn't it? People crave such stories of goodness, because we hear so little of them. And then, when we do, we are surprised and shocked, deeming such positive occurrences "unbelievable."

Yesterday, in a letter to the editor, a reader had this to say in response to last Wednesday's "curious development."

"The Post's readers are speaking out, and you might do well to listen. They are tired of endless bad news, and they love the Random Acts feature..." "Readers are flooding your mailbox with letters of appreciation for finding good news in the paper for a change." He goes on to say that this feature should move to the front page of the Post, as it would make the "perfect complement to all the bad news that tends to dominate the A-section and would bring some delight to days too often filled with doom and gloom."

He ends with this: "A nice dose of daily good news would bring light into our days and would help counter the ills that often overwhelm us."

Agreed! Good news will often beget good news, just as bad news seems to beget more of the same. It isn't that doing the right thing is unbelievable, but the fact that we hear so little of all that is good and right in the world around us, that is.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brief piece of news, posted on, April 29, 2008 blew me away, especially after reading the heartwarming post “Unbelievable Sportsmanship”. It’s all a matter of conscience and choices. Some get the connection and some don't.

NEW YORK, APRIL 29, 2008 ( - "The archbishop of New York said the city's former pro-abortion mayor should not have received the Eucharist during Benedict XVI's trip to the United States.

In a statement released Monday, Cardinal Edward Egan recalled the Church's position on abortion, noting that it is a grave offense against the will of God.

Throughout my years as archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind, he continued. Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became archbishop of New York and he was serving as mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion.

I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.

Giuliani, who is also on his third marriage, received the Eucharist during Mass at Yankee Stadium on the last day of the Pope's visit."

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A nice sweet story, yes. But why is "doing the right thing" viewed as so extraordinary in today's society?"

Why is this so often the case? "Winning" seems to be prime in so many things. So, I'm glad a spotlight was put on this- as it should be on so many other things. The fact is, so often what we "win" in the short term, we "lose" in the long term. End results seem to reign supreme and prime motives seem relatively unimportant overall. The spotlight here was good.


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