Twenty-six year old Stephanie Perkins understands what it is like to be part of a team. “I love being part of a team” she says, “we all have different strengths but we come together to achieve a common goal. You can’t play selfishly, you have to give it your all or else you are letting the whole team down.” This is why she was devastated when she tore her ACL right before the BC summer games. “I just kept thinking how badly I wanted to play and to help my team win the gold.”
Stephanie has a vivid memory of the moment leading up to her injury. “In game two of the tournament I hit a double into left field” she remembers. “Standing on second base, I was eager to get home. My coach was eager to get me home too. Looking down at him from second base for my signal, I was ready. He could give me the signal to do nothing but I wanted to steal. Come on steal; please give me the steal sign. There it is, one swipe across the chest and tap of the hat. I am going to steal. Now I am nervous. I am going to steal? Ok, I can do this. The pitcher winds up; I close my eyes and start running towards third base. I don’t think I have ever run so fast in my life. The 102-degree weather feels cool on my face as the wind I am creating tickles the beads of sweat on my forehead. A sensation none of my team has been able to enjoy this whole weekend. I don’t even know where the ball is or what is happening in the game. I slide into third base without even thinking. My coach tells me to get up and go home. The ball has been thrown clear over the third baseman’s head. ‘Get up, get up! Go home!’ he says. My coach is yelling at me frantically, waving his hands towards home plate in such a way that I can sense only urgency. I try to get up and run but I cannot. My right leg is stuck. I keep trying. I want to get to home. I want to score. I want to please my coach. I want to help my team but I can’t! I can’t move.” Stephanie could not move because she had torn her ACL, an injury which ranks among the top in terms of pain and long lasting effects.
A trip to the hospital, a pair of crutches and a few pain killers later, Stephanie knew that she must still try to give the game her all, even if that meant participating from the sidelines. So that is exactly what she did. She would attend practices and games and cheer for her team, the team that she loved, the team that no matter what, she was a part of. Although frustrating for Stephanie, she never let her team see anything but her encouraging smile.
That year her team won the gold at the BC summer games. Stephanie was upset that she was unable to help her team win. Or at least that is what she thought at first. After winning the game, team mates told Stephanie how inspiring it was to see her out at games and practices and to hear her positive cheers despite the pain and frustration she must have been feeling. They told her that they won the gold as a team, a team that was lucky enough to have their own personal motivator.
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, or in this case you steal a base while the ball is flying, but it is how you deal with these situations that show your integrity. Stephanie truly stepped up to the plate or fell into the plate (last softball analogy I promise) when faced with a difficult situation. That is why this week we recognize Stephanie as our featured community of the week.