Put Me In Coach



This story pretty much speaks for itself.

Coach Chris Ice has been a member of the SportsLeader Coaches Association for many years.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Strength for Life Manual

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Hi Lou,

Recently, my 9-10 year old PONY Mustang League baseball team, the Wintersville, OH Red Sox, were playing the Wellsburg, WV Brewers. In the bottom of the first inning, Zach, the last batter in my lineup and a young man who has not hit the ball this year, came to the plate with the bases loaded.

The pitcher threw a wild pitch and hit Zach in the face. I sprinted to home plate from my third base coaching position as I knew this was going to be bad. As I arrived, Zach had his hand over his right eye which was already swollen from the impact; I could see the baseball seams on his nose.

I calmed Zach down and assured him he would be okay. I immediately started putting Zach through a series of concussion tests. I asked him his name and he started laughing, "Coach, you know my name, it's Zach!" As I continued the tests, he seemed okay, but I encouraged him to go to the dugout and put ice on his eye. He obliged.

In the second inning, Zach's turn to hit came up again. I did not have any reserves; so I told the umpire that we had to take an out as Zach was not going to bat. We recorded the out and the game moved on. In the fourth inning, Zach's turn to bat came up again. I went up to the umpire and told him that we will have to take an out again as I assumed Zach would not be hitting. As soon as I turned around, Zach was standing behind me with his helmet on and his bat in hand. He said, "put me in coach, I am ready to hit!" I tried to encourage him to sit back down and keep the ice on his eye. He said, "No, Coach Ice, I want to play."

I took a step back, put him through a series a concussion and vision tests again and then asked the umpire to do the same thing. Zach didn't miss a beat and everything seemed okay. We went ahead and let him bat. He struck out swinging.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Zach came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. We were ahead 14-5; so all we needed was one run to end the game due to the mercy rule. I wasn't sure what to expect from Zach, but he stepped up to the plate and this time, he earned a walk to end the game with us being victorious 15-5.

Lou, in my 12 years of coaching little league baseball, I have NEVER had a kid return to a game after being hit in the face by a pitched ball. Most kids I have coached, are never the same and it takes years for them to recover from the horrific memory of being hit in the face. Zach's determination, fortitude and perseverance inspired me and reminded me that no matter what our suffering in life may be, God is there to pick us up and encourage us to get back to the plate and hit again.

Life is too short to sit on the bench and watch everyone around us play the game. If we are unwilling to participate in the game of life again, everyone around us suffers because they have to take an "out" because of our lack of participation. We need to rise up, use the talent that God gives, even if it seems limited and inspire others around us. Zach's determination to go back to the plate and face his biggest fear and help his team was an inspiration to me last night and to all who were in attendance.

May the Lord continue to bless the great work that SportsLeader is doing for our world of athletics! Thank you for all your hard work.

In Christ!


Chris Ice 
Director of Major Gifts 
Franciscan University of Steubenville