Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Courage Of An 11 Year Old

A must read article for all players, parents and coaches....

Coach Bob

Girl without left hand pitches in Little League

By REX BARBER • Johnson City Press • July 2, 2008

JOHNSON CITY — "Can't never could." Eleven-year-old Emily Moore has heard that simple, yet meaningful, phrase ever since she can remember. Heeding that mantra has served her well, too. The highly active youth is a pitcher for Johnson City National Little League baseball team Dental Arts despite being born without her left hand.

This past season, she struck out two batters in her first appearance on the mound and later belted an inside-the-park home run, resulting in several RBIs. Her fast ball is mean, and the other teams know it. But her skills are not limited to the pitcher's mound and batter's box.
"I pitch, I play third base, and sometimes I play center field and sometimes first base," Emily said.

She also plays soccer and basketball when those seasons come around. Next baseball season she could be a starting pitcher.

Emily has had to adapt to play the games. As a pitcher, she has learned to catch the ball, slip off her glove, catch the glove in the fold of her left arm, grip the ball with her right hand and heave it where it needs to go. The whole process takes mere seconds. And she does it with a grace bespeaking years of practice, though she has only played two seasons.

"It's actually pretty awesome," Emily said of pitching in baseball games. "I started to learn to pitch when I was 9. I pitched my first game when I was 10," she said, adding that she struck out two batters in that game. "This year I've pitched every other game."

Emily got the idea to play baseball after watching others play the game. Always up for a challenge, she went for pitcher.

"Because when I saw my friends do it, I thought it would be more of a challenge to play an all-boy sport. I thought it would be neat."

Her mom, Penny Moore Osborne, said even though the majority of the league is made up of boys, Emily keeps up with them.

"She knows how to be a girl, but she can hang tight and tough with the boys," Penny said.
Emily's mom, and her whole family for that matter, have encouraged her throughout her life.
"If they feel like they're handicapped then they're going to feel like they're not going to be able to do something," Penny said. "But we've always taught her that 'can't never could' and if you put your heart and mind to something, no matter what condition, you can always do anything you want to do."

In fact, Emily's mom told her to utilize her handicap naturally.

"Players on the other teams would, like, stare at me, so when I pitched they would watch me instead of the ball so that I would strike them out like that," Emily said.

That tactic's effectiveness is wearing off as teams get used to her pitching, but the sport is not only about trophies and statistics, Emily said.

"It's a challenge," she said of the game. "It's fun because it's not all about winning. It's about having a good time."

Betsy Cunningham is on the league's board and also has a son who plays on one of the teams.
"She's a sweet, very sweet, roundabout child," Cunningham said of Emily. "They see her as a Little Leaguer and they all love her."

Cunningham said Emily's sportsmanship is admirable. She has never heard or seen Emily get upset at a game's outcome or an error. Cunningham thinks others can learn a lesson from her; that it is a gift just to be able to play the game.

"You know, there's lots of kids with bad attitudes and they get upset if they get out," Cunningham said. "They take it for granted."

Emily said she did get some negative comments about her ability to play ball when she first began. Those comments were unfounded. She has a life lesson for those who may or may not have a disability.

"I would say that everybody can do what they want to do if they put their mind to it, but if they put their mind to it that they're handicapped then they can't do it," she said. "I say put your mind to it and do it. And always keep practicing."

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