Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)
TITLE: Diamonds In The Rough
By Celeste Ammirata
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Okay, hold the camera steady. You have to record this moment for posterity’s sake. And none of the awful screeching! Nobody wants to hear that as they watch a replay of history in the making.
My son’s college baseball team is playing for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament championship; for the first time in school history. They win, and next stop is the NCAA division III World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin.
It’s the bottom of the tenth, tie score. Our first batter flies out to right field. One down. Next batter makes it to first on a throwing error. He hustles to third when Eric, my son, gets on with a hit to right field. We’ve got men on first and third with one out.
Okay, mom, breathe….you can do this. Keep the camera steady.
The enemy walks the next batter. Bases loaded with one out. My heart gallops like a wild stallion. I can almost picture the tumbleweeds blowing across the dry, barren wasteland of my mouth.
The next batter steps up to the plate.
Oh Lord, Oh Lord, Oh Lord……please!!! But… your will be done.
The batter swings, and the ball sails—in slow motion it seems—into the centerfielders glove. Our man on third takes off …and is safe at home. Victory is ours!
I yell out, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you for this incredible blessing.” I film the scene unfolding before me, lots of smiling, hugging, crying, and then dancing on the field.
Eric, a junior, had struggled this season. It frustrated him that he played below his potential. As hard as it was to see him go through that, I prayed to keep it in perspective. After all, it’s only a game. But in this tournament, God let Eric’s star shine. He and three teammates were awarded with All Tournament Team honors.
Two thousand miles, and four nail biting games later… they were the NCAA Division III National Champions! At the start of the season, I never would have dared asked God for this. It seemed impossible. But nothing is impossible with God.
Driving back to the hotel, my cell phone vibrates and I read a text message from Eric. “God has been good to me…He’s been very, very good to me.”
Indeed He has, and I’m glad Eric gets it.
Everyone said it couldn’t be done…another trip to Appleton. Eric and his teammates—more like band of brothers—knew the odds were against them. They were hoping to win the conference tournament, something their school hasn’t done since 2002. If they could accomplish that, they’d have a Conference, Regional, and World Series Championship under their belts. Not a bad way to end their baseball careers.
Less than a month before, after a game lost in the bottom of the ninth, we were discussing the team’s fall from grace, so to speak. Their conference record was six and four. Things weren’t looking too good. We gave the season up to God.
Not willing to fade quietly into the night, they came back strong to win every conference game after that. And then went undefeated in the Conference and Regional tournaments. Who’d have thought? God gave them more than they dreamed ask for… another shot at being National Champions.
It’s the bottom of the tenth in our second game at the World Series. The other team is up at bat. After losing our first outing—of the two loss elimination tournament—we’re holding on for dear life. The enemy has a man on first and third with one out.
Oh Lord, Oh Lord, Oh Lord…please!!! Just let us win one game. But… your will be done.
A grounder is hit to short; a routine double play ball. I breathe a sigh of relief. But the short stop fumbles it and the other team scores. That’s it. It’s over.
Never again will Eric and the guys he’d known since his freshman year take the field together as a team. It’s hard. Real hard. Not just being out of the tournament…but having an era come to an end.
Sad smiles, quivering lips, and watery, blood shot eyes greet us after the game. We say goodbye with hugs and tears.
And through my tears, I remember. This is life. Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes God says no to a dream. And sometimes…
Sometimes He gives you wings and allows you to soar to heights you never dreamed possible.
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