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Fields of Dreams

My name is Cassidy; I am 20 and I have cerebral palsy. Being in a wheel chair is no walk in the park, and early in my life I had trouble coming to grips with my limitations. The early years consisted of surgeries and brutal physical therapy, and I felt like I was living in an eggshell trying to break out by myself. Trying to make life meaningful and not be defined by my chair was a lot to wrestle with, but there was one thing that I loved, and that was sports.

Having four brothers and all of them playing sports was a blessing in disguise for me, because no matter what was going on with me, we always ended up at a ballpark, a field or a court! This gave me the opportunity to put the blinders on to all the stares and questions about my life and to imagine myself in the heat of battle, feeling that adrenaline when they made a great play, and even the heartbreak of losing a close one. It was so great for me because I was able to be with my brothers and their team and dream that one day I would be on the field experiencing all the emotions of competition.

That awesome day came when I was eight years old. My mom came in my room and said ‘how would you like to play sports! I looked at her like a deer in headlights not understanding what she meant and said ‘oh my god are you serious’ she said ‘yes you’re going to get to do what you’ve always wanted’. My smile was so big that if you looked to long it would blind you. When she left I thought I had just won the lottery and couldn’t wait to get on the field. The first thing we did that made it feel real was my dad took me to Dicks Sporting Goods to get my sports gear. Being able to try on different helmets, batting gloves, and seeing what baseball bat felt most comfortable for my patented one-armed swing. I felt like a kid in a candy store, able to feel like my brothers and getting the same opportunity they had even with my limitations.

That Saturday was the moment I had always been waiting for, being able to roll on that field and play a game that I love watching for a long time! I had the biggest butterflies because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything that I wanted no matter what! Of course I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. My 1st at bat is something I will never forget, rolling into the batters box, heart thumping out of my chest, gripping the bat so tight like my life depended on it. My dad floated the ball and I swung so hard that when I connected the vibration of the bat made my hand sting. I was so happy I made contact and it was a good hit, that I almost ran into one of the volunteers coaching 1st base. It was one of the coolest moments of my life! I realized that I belonged and could do anything I wanted to!

That was just the beginning, as a got stronger as a hitter I was able to go play with the bigger kids twice my age who could hit the ball out of the ballpark. In turn that made me push myself even more to become better at every aspect of my game. Another cool thing was we were all unique in our own way. I was able to create many bonds with the players, making me more confident in myself. I realized that I wasn’t the only one that had something different about them. So not only did I get to play a sport that I loved, I learned a lot of things about life and myself in general.

The next sport that I played was football and man was that a great experience it wasn’t the rough and tumble tackling that we are all used to seeing.However it was so cool being able to do something that I never thought possible. The first time I touched the ball was probably on the 5-yard line. When I got the handoff and was able to get in the end zone  I did the Rob Gronkowski spike. It was so awesome; I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face! It was amazing having my whole family experience that moment with me. My mom, who was getting the play by play screaming and my brothers jumping on me, was priceless! I will never forget how great I felt. I told my brother afterwards ‘I am so glad I didn’t fumble that ball’. He laughed and said me too.

Football also gave me the opportunity to meet people I never thought I would like Panthers players Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil. Instead of freezing up like popsicle, I was able to carry on a conversation and that had never happened before I started playing sports. Although I didn’t play football for long, I was able to meet new people and have memories that I will never forget.

Lastly, I tried my hand at wheelchair basketball, which was the most difficult sport for me. Since being the only one in a wheelchair on the team, I kind of fish out of water. However that didn’t stop me from learning how to dribble for 30 seconds and make one-handed baskets! I was amazed with the things I was able to do and after coming out sweating bullets after every practice, the work really paid off. It was an awesome that taught me that no matter what situation you’re in; hard work gives you great results! Basketball, being the hardest for me, gave me the biggest reward of overcoming the obstacles. Sports is not only used for entertainment, but is also used to change your outlook on life and attitude about your situation. That’s what sports have done for me and I am so thankful for that. I don’t know where I would be without sports!

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PUT YOUR GOGGLES on THERE’S GOING TO BE BLOOD and GUTS EVERYWHERE!

A NFL Sunday that has more juice than usual as the Carolina Panthers have to do something many Panther fans and I never thought, face Steve Smith as an opponent! When you think of the of the Panthers you think of Steve Smith, a 13 year career filled with dramatic touchdown catches and a total of 13,054 yards receiving, had a knack for making safeties and corners look foolish on every down, and maybe the most fiery wide receiver to ever play in the NFL with many fights and enticing the defenders into stupid penalties, the full package as NFL wide receiver!

Many fans thought Smith would be a lifer as a Carolina Panther; the fact that he is not proves how rare it is for a player to stay with one team because of many things whether it is leadership changes or even player attitudes. Look I understand the NFL is a business and philosophies change but this might be the most questionable move in franchise history cutting the face of your franchise, I hope it works out for both sides in the end!

Our defense is a force, but we were badly exposed last week in the ugliest loss in 2 years to the Pittsburgh Steelers and having Steve Smith to play might be the worst case scenario for our secondary, who I call the land of misfit toys a big test for a bounce back game we will see.

This game we be a classic smash mouth trash taking game going to be exciting to see what happens, the training staff will be busier than at any time this year! Strap your helmet real tight and be ready to hit! AGENT 89 IS READY going to be fun to watch GO Panthers!! Miss you Steve please don’t rip us apart!! 🙂

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Braves season in review

The Major League baseball season is 162 game marathon, but now with just 2 weeks left it is a sprint and unfortunately the Braves are clinging to their playoff hopes by the skin of their teeth being 6 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2nd wild card spot to say the least it’s going to take a miracle!

The main reason why we sit in this position is the offensive struggles for much of the year and especially in September the braves couldn’t hit a beach ball if they tried really hard to watch. Also not having a prototypical lead-off has greatly effected what we can do because having to use a run producing guy at the top off the line up as put pressure on other guys that haven’t come though that must be the 1st thing we address this offseason, if we want to seriously contend for the title next year.

The braves have also the meaning of ABC baseball and the fundamentals that it takes to win ballgames weather it be get the bunt down or hitting the ball to the right side to get a guy over simple things that mean a lot! Those who think a strikeout is just an out are nuts, it stalls the momentum of an inning and puts pressure on the next guy to pick you up, since I’ve been watching the game of baseball it’s always been said put the ball in play crazy things can happen and the braves have not done that well at all this year! One last thing about the offense that sums up the year offensively is last year we were 4th in runs scored this year we are 27th ridiculous and when you get no- hit by the Phillies who are last in our division and need canes to go out there and play baseball you know it’s not a good year!

A couple of positives we can take form this year is our patchwork pitching staff have given us a chance to win every time they go out there if we could’ve scored 3 runs in every game we played we could’ve won 10 to 15 more games than we have, not joking our pitching has been that good! That was considered a weakness after losing 3/5 of our rotation to injury coming out of spring training not the case at all!

Another positive we can take we can take out of this year is the defensive pay of Jayson Heyward and Andrelton Simmons who continue to make jaw-dropping plays to save runs and our pitchers bacon. Jayson has only one error in right this season and Andrelton the best shortstop in the league right now bar none!

They say pitching and defense wins championships, not this year offensive struggles will define the 2014 Atlanta Braves! We will keep fighting until they say there is no chance, but it is bleak I’ll be watching until the end. We will be back better than ever in 2015 GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

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