I had no idea I lived next door to a softball rockstar.
Courtney and her family moved into the neighborhood during her sophomore year. We found out they were Christians, which they displayed over and over through tangible acts of service.
The first time we felt their hospitality was when they randomly came over to trim our overgrown evergreen trees. Apparently the family owned a tree trimming business back in Kentucky and all knew a thing or two about how to make shrubs and landscaping look amazing. There were other moments when we needed a hand and knew that Courtney’s dad and brothers would be more than willing to help us lift or move something heavy. I hope we also came across to them as having the same type of more-than-neighborly care.
The real surprise came when I read about her “delayed” softball career in our local newspaper.
Courtney is a 5-foot-11, right-armed pitching wonder full of incredible athleticism and determination that any coach would scoop up in a second. She’s helped lead her team to win after win this year against the area competition.
The real story? This is her second year with the team, but it’s her first year playing with them.
Courtney and her family moved into the same school district my family recently moved out of. It’s not a “bad” district by any means, but it does have its limitations. She and her brothers started there together, but due to the district’s limited funding realized that their extracurricular opportunities would be limited. Within the first week, Courtney transferred out to another local school where she’s been attending ever since.
That’s the real hiccup. Under Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, Courtney couldn’t compete as an athlete since she didn’t start her school year in that district.
Any average teenager might whine and pout, waiting for the next season to join in.
Instead, Courtney became a servant in the Name of Jesus by helping out the team however it needed. At times she’d grab a rake to take care of the field after games or keep score when the coach needed an extra hand.
Her coach summarized, “I’ll tell you what kind of kid she is: She was at absolutely everything with us. She was allowed to do anything and everything with us except put a jersey on and go on the field. She was the first one on the field after the game with a rake. She was the one getting water together, turning the scoreboard on, doing this, doing that. It was amazing how dedicated she was even though she wasn’t playing.”
This came from a girl who was named second-team all-district player as a freshman.
Now she’s on the field and able to toss out pitch after pitch with a winning attitude. In her debut game, she tossed a no-hitter and struck out five in a 10-0 win. She’s been averaging 1.1 strikeouts per inning and is sporting a 1.75 earned run average. Batters are hitting .139 off her.
Which is the real story, though?
Is it what Courtney did on the field…or off the field? Is it in her accomplishments…or in the season before she had any stats to begin with?
I’m so intrigued by this story – but I’m also intrigued by why I’m intrigued by it.
What if Courtney would have been a softball flop? Would the power of servanthood during her first year have been as amplified? Please don’t take what I’m about to say next the wrong way, but Courtney isn’t physically or mentally handicapped. It seems like unless a student is either limited in some way or a superstar in another way, their acts of service don’t get as celebrated.
Still, here I am celebrating Courtney and her tangible faithfulness of living out her faith through a Philippians 2 spirit of humility.
When it comes to pitching servanthood, which way should you lean?
What do you think?