Pure Sportsmanship – Softball Assessment Round

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—the acts of kindness, generosity and overall grace of our athletes—those fleeting, poignant moments that are unfortunately all too uncommon in professional sports, are on display at almost every single Special Olympics competition.

Our intern Alison Koning was working hard at a softball assessment round in Framingham and witnessed it first hand. With the help of fellow interns Emily Goodnow and Erinn May, they share a story of what can only be described as pure sportsmanship.

Special Olympics Massachusetts, Softball Assessment Round

—July 14th, 2012

The Newburyport Raiders’ Pitcher Craig Powers demonstrated a tremendous act of sportsmanship during his second game of the day versus the Plymouth Rocks at Framingham High School. This event featured athletes ages 22 years-old and older who were being assessed for the August Tournament. The assessment rounds allow the players the best opportunity to win gold in the upcoming state tournament by giving tournament organizers the chance to watch all teams play and demonstrate their skills.

As Craig prepared to deliver his pitch, he abruptly stopped himself, puzzling the players and fans. Without missing a beat, Craig called time out and marched from the pitcher’s mound to home plate to fix the batters’ untied shoe. The confusion among the spectators immediately turned into pride for this admirable athlete as they applauded his generous act.

Craig continued to exemplify extraordinary generosity as the next batter for the Plymouth Rocks approached the plate. After he threw his first pitch to him, Craig realized that the batter could not see the ball clearly. The batters’ patriotic sunglasses, embellished with an American Flag graphic, obstructed his vision. Craig tossed the white ball aside and asked for a lime green ball instead. He left the mound and moved closer to the batter box to benefit the Plymouth Rock player. After each strike, Craig inched incrementally closer to home plate, saying, “I’m really trusting that you won’t hit me, kid.” Craig was even willing to throw a fourth pitch after the batter technically struck out. The batter was extremely grateful that he was given the opportunity to succeed.

In selflessly assisting his opponents, Craig courageously took a risk to benefit his rivals, and in doing so displayed his commitment to the Special Olympics Athete’s Oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  This oath has various meanings to athletes, but to Craig of the Newburyport Raiders, his definition of winning was mustering the courage to help his opponents excel, and by doing so exemplifies all Special Olympics Athletes who are “brave in the attempt.”

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