A story that deserved to be told
It's been a powerful week in the life of Travis Durkee, sports editor of The Daily Courier. It's reminded me that sports is so much more than what you see on the field.
Sports go beyond hits, runs, points, wins and losses. Sports can inspire. They can change the way you view a group of people and even yourself.
During the week I stuff the sports section with news that people want to know. Scores, stats, names and faces dominate the B-section for five days out of the week, but Saturdays allow me an opportunity to tell people what they need to know. A day to show readers what needs to be shown. Last Saturday was, in my opinion, the most important day of my career because it illustrated my responsibility as a sports journalist.
It began in the middle of the week when I came into work and did the first thing I always do when I sit at my desk, I checked my voicemail. Usually it's full of misdirected calls from people wondering why they didn't get a paper in their driveway that morning or a parent who wants their child's name in the paper for some reason (some better than others).
This particular day however, a voicemail jumped out at me.
A young lady named Angie Davis called to tell me about the local Challenger Division baseball league. A division where mentally and physically challenged children come together to play baseball.
She noticed that The Daily Courier began covering Little League baseball and softball in some capacity and wanted the children in this particular division to get a little recognition. And as some readers may recall from my days as a news columnist, I wrote about a young boy with Down's syndrome who made a lasting impact on my life while I was in college. So with that in mind, I was hooked.
So Satuday morning I drove out to Crestview Park to find 16 mentally and and physically challenged children enjoying America's game.
The morning was filled with laughter, praise, smiles and unadulterated joy. It was nothing short of powerful.
I watched as adults worked patiently with these children until they made contact with a pitch and sprinted to first base with an ear-to-ear grin. Eventually they all made it to home plate where some took the opportunity to slide in to score.
It was the slowest two innings of baseball I had ever watched, but after they were over I wanted nothing more than to watch another.
After the action finished I spoke with a handful of parents and even a player and saw that the opportunity for their children to play meant so much more than just baseball.
The story I wrote about this division lasted one day in print and then the paper went right back to reporting facts, but that day and that story will stay with me forever. All I can do is hope is that it touched the parents of those children and parents that find themselves in a similar situation. I hope it gives them the courage to seize every opportunity they can for their child.
No story could do those children justice. No words can truly illustrate the courage and perseverance that they display every Saturday morning. That day was something I had to witness to comprehend, and even now I'm not sure that I fully do.
That Saturday and that story showed me that sports goes beyond the lights on the scoreboard and even the ink in the newspaper, it can touch hearts, and it can touch lives.