by Gary Ahuja
It was the right thing to do.
That was all that was going through the minds of Shannon Chick, Kristan Rodrigues and Shae Domitruk.
It was back in July, during a playoff game at the provincial championships between the Fraser Valley Fusion 97 fastpitch team and the Surrey Storm 97 at Victoria’s Helmcken Park.
The Storm’s Raelyn Radovich had just belted a three-run home run over the centre-field fence, tying the game.
But while she was rounding first base, Radovich suffered a knee injury. She limped her way around second base and then third, but the pain became too much to bear and she collapsed.
Since she had rounded third base and was between third and home, she could not stop and call for a pinch runner. And if a teammate or coach was to help her, she would be called out.
That was when the Fusion trio sprung into action. Chick, Rodrigues and Domitruk hoisted the fallen Radovich up and carried her to home plate.
“If one of our girls happened (to get hurt) and fall, we would have wanted someone to step up and say we are going to take her home as well,” Chick explained.
She described the moment as very emotional, with the fallen player – and many of the fans in attendance – moved to tears.
“None of us really said anything, it just kind of happened,” said Domitruk.
“I felt bad for her, she totally deserved the home run so we picked her up and carried her home,” Rodrigues said.
The Fusion went on to win that game and eventually finished second at provincials.
But something bigger than winning the silver medal also happened to the Fusion, a regional squad of 16-year-old girls which features Abbotsford centre fielder/second baseman Callum Pilgrim.
The St. Louis Sports Commission deemed the team worthy of the Musial Award, which recognizes great moments in sportsmanship. The prize is named for the late St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Stan Musial.
While the Missouri-based organization does accept nominations, most often they will select the award recipients through their own research, and they came across a story about the Fusion’s sportsmanship on the Langley Times website.
“We are always on the lookout for extraordinary stories of sportsmanship,” explained Marc Schreiber, the vice-president of the organization.
The Fusion will receive the Musial Award – formerly known as the National Sportsmanship Award and presented since 1999 – on Nov. 9 in St. Louis. The Fusion will be the first recipient from outside the United States, Schreiber said.
The award will be presented by two former members of the Central Washington softball team who in 2008 did the same with a fallen opponent, in a video that went viral.
“We did not expect this,” said Chick.
The Fusion are hoping to raise enough money to send all 12 players and three coaches to the ceremony. Right now, airfare and accommodation is provided for just two people.
“It is not really a two-person award, it is a team award,” said coach Gord O’Grady.
The estimated cost for a ticket to St. Louis is about $800 per person, so multiply that by 13 and it is $10,000 just for the airfare.
The various Fusion teams are holding tryouts in the upcoming week and the focus will then shift to fundraising.
To donate, visit www.langleysoftball.com/Langley-Fastball-Online-Store.aspx. For donations greater than $300, the Fusion will display company logos on their team banner.