There is a silver lining around the Fraser Valley Fusion 97’s loss of a provincial championship game.
Despite the fact the team dropped a 7-0 decision to the Delta Heat in the A finals, the girls came out the big winners in the eyes of their coaches, opponents and parents who were on hand to watch an amazing display of sportsmanship in Victoria.
Especially in a time when it’s easy to lose your faith in sports. Professional athletes dominate the sports pages, airwaves, and highlight reels for all the wrong reasons.
Lance Armstrong climbed sport’s highest peaks, only to be proven a fraud.
The news coming from the NFL off this season reads more like crime fiction than football.
In baseball, the stench of steroids wafts over the league like a bad smell. Alex Rodriguez and a dozen other players are the latest in a long list of players who have forsaken the integrity of the game for their own financial gain. Now any player who has a great year is a suspect.
Just ask Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis. On pace for a 50-plus home run season, whispers surround not his accomplishments, but rather if he’s juicing. Fair or not, it’s the state of the game, no matter what the sport is.
Honour, among athletes, appears to be something of the past.
But don’t tell that to Maple Ridge’s Shae Domitruk.
Playing catcher for the rep A Fraser Valley Fusion 97 girls fastpitch team, she and her teammates did more than their part to restore anyone’s faith in sportsmanship.
The Fusion were battling one of their biggest rivals, the Surrey Storm in the playoffs of the U16 A provincial finals in Victoria. Up 6-3 in the 5th inning, the Storm looked to tied with one swing of the bat. The Storm’s Raelyn Radovich went deep on a long fly ball to straight away centre field.
“There was no question it was a home run,” said Domitruk, who attends Samuel Robertson Secondary.
But Radovich blew out her knee rounding first, a suspected tear of her MCL.
She attempted to keep going, but by the time she approached third, her knee gave out and she crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain.
Unable to get up and complete the bases, Radovich was a sitting target for an easy out. It didn’t matter how deep she crushed the ball, she was a sitting duck.
Since Radovich had made it past first base on her own, the rules prohibited her from being helped by her teammates or coaches.
That’s when Domitruk and her teammates decided to take action into their own hands.
Fusion players quickly gathered around to see if Radovich was OK. It became obvious she wasn’t going to be able to make home on her own.
“No one really said anything at first,” said the Maple Ridge backstop.
“We just went out there and picked her up and carried over home plate.”
To the delight of everyone on hand, the Fusion proved there is still sports being played the right way.“It was awesome,” said Fusion coach Gord O’Grady. “They did it completely on their own,” said O’Grady.
“They knew it was the right thing to do. It was a very special moment I won’t ever forget.”
The coach said many of his players had seen a similar situation play out in the NCAA a few years back.While the umpires originally weren’t going to let the Fusion carry the injured player home, they relented when they could see it the determination in the faces of all the players and coaches on both teams, said O’Grady. He said it’s not something he expects many players will ever experience again
Nor will Domitruk. The backstop, who also share time at second base, said there was no question among teammates what needed to be done. She was proud of the fact they didn’t let the heat of a playoff game get in the way of their own team’s integrity.
“If it happened to one of our players, we would hope they would do the same for us,” she explained.
“It was such a good hit. She deserved a home run. We’re not going to play the game unfairly.”
Mike Palmer, head coach of the Storm, was equally impressed with display of sportsmanship from their heated rivals.
“I was a little taken back and surprised at first,” said the Storm coach. “It’s one in a million chance that the players gets hurt rounding the bases and can’t make it home. It’s quite amazing that they thought to do that.”
He said he’s hoping his players learn a valuable lesson from what they experienced in Victoria.
The Fusion went on to grind out a 9-7 win over the Storm. From there, they won two more games to make it to the finals before bowing out to Delta.
But for Domitruk, who has already won three provincial fastpitch titles, the silver medal is clearly a golden moment.
“I’m just so proud of our team. It was pretty cool.”