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A Bond Beyond the Diamond

May 7, 2014

By: Tiffani Brown

No collegiate athlete goes into their last season, their senior season, playing cautious. They play without fear, leaving nothing, risking everything, knowing their final game is fast approaching. I was no different. My team, Florida State softball started the 2013 season hot. We were on a roll, bursting with talent and hopeful for the future. Pre-conference we traveled to California to face solid competition. What I didn't know then was my first game of the tournament would be my last of the season.

We were playing Long Island University, Brooklyn. In my fourth at bat I laid down a sacrifice bunt. I was the speed for the team and my role was to get on base. Out of the box I realized it would be close and, determined to beat the throw, I stretched to hit the base. I had missed the bag and hit the foot of the first baseman. My teammates and coaches watched in stunned silence as our athletic trainer came to my aid. I was hurt, bad. My knee had hyperextended. I was carted off to face a very emotional realization with my team and family. I watched as we struggled in California and came home to a painful diagnosis. I had torn my PCL or Posterior Cruciate Ligament and was out for the season. Devastated, angry, in pain and confused, I tried to wrap my head around the prospect of the 2013 season ending when it had only just begun. But our game has a way of shining light into those moments filled with darkness and what happened next is why softball has impacted my life in ways that are hard to describe.

Following my injury, pre-diagnosis, while still in California and still devastated Coacha handed me a card. The card was from Brooklynn York, the first baseman from LIU Brooklyn. I was shocked, of course on crutches, but taken aback. I couldn't believe this stranger had the heart to go out of her way to tell me how sad she was about what happened. I mean, it's softball, people get banged up all the time. It is just part of the game. Sure I was upset I was hurt but this girl did not owe me anything. The card was a simple yet lovely gesture and it made me smile. The next day I looked for Brooklynn to let her know how much I appreciated the gesture. I found her, said thank you probably a million and one times, and thought our paths would never cross again. Boy was I wrong.

Fast-forward past a year of rehabilitation, college graduation, a great 2013 regular season and productive fall, to the spring of 2014. I was awarded a redshirt and geared up to say goodbye to softball all over again. Early this season our team played Virginia Tech and FCGU in Ft. Myers at Florida Gulf Coast University. During our first game I was walking toward the end of the dugout, when our athletic trainer Eunice Hernandez came running over to me. "Tiff, the first baseman from Long Island University is here, she wants to see you." I believe my exact words were, "Whaaaat? What is she doing here? " I was flabbergasted by her presence and I could do nothing but embrace her with a huge hug and an even bigger smile. She was so concerned about how I was doing, and expressed how happy she was that I had recovered and was back on the field playing.

I later found out that she was from the Ft. Myers area, and upon graduating had returned home to teach. I couldn't believe it! Here she was again, the same kind-hearted person who went out of her way to get me a card after our collision had gone out of her way again to see me in south Florida. The conversation was brief, yet so meaningful. Brooklynn seemed as excited to see me as I was to see her, and I could not do anything but smile. My heart warming on the inside, as Coacha ran over with the great idea to snap a couple of photos which will last for a lifetime. There she was again, Brooklynn York, with the same tender smile and loving gesture.

The actions of Brooklynn York have impacted me in many ways. It makes me smile to know there are still great, selfless individuals in the world. Brooklynn epitomizes what sportsmanship truly means, and her demonstration of that sportsmanship speaks to her character. Her actions show the magnitude of respect she has for the game and showed me just how fortunate I am to be a part of the softball community.

Though I cannot express enough how much Brooklynn means to me, I tell this story often. I love to see people's reaction to Brooklynn's kindness and so I write this story to share with you. I hope you too will feel comfort from a stranger's compassion and sense of renewed faith in people. I also write this story to say thank you. Ms. York, thank you. Thank you for being so selfless and for considering others. Thank you for showing a kind gesture to a complete stranger, for you never know the impact you have on someone by doing something so small. Thank you for turning a dark moment into a beautiful story I'll never forget.

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