There’s more to life than sports.
In the broad scheme of things, really, sports are silly, and often pale in comparison to the other, more pivotal aspects of human nature. And the Springfield College baseball team got a key and humbling lesson while on their annual spring break trip to Florida.
William Paterson University, located in Wayne, New Jersey, just 25 miles outside of Manhattan, also sent their baseball squad south to take part in a slate of games in Florida.
Head coach Mark Lauterhahn and assistant coach Marc Palestina were preparing for dinner when all of the sudden there was a tremendous “bang” outside of their hotel.
“We were preparing dinner for the night, heard a bang and heard screaming, went outside and heard someone saying, ‘dad’ and saw smoke,” Lauterhahn said in an interview with WABC in New York.
The two coaches saw what was the fiery result of a head on collision. They ended up scaling a large wall in order to get to the accident scene.
“The woman was kind of pinned in her car; we couldn’t open the door. I asked Mark to call 911 to get someone over there. I told the lady, ‘What you’re going to need to do right now is put your arms around me and we’ll get you out and get you to safety, but we don’t have a whole lot of time,'” said Lauterhahn.
It was a true act of heroism (though Palestina stated that “There are real heroes out there,” and that they were simply just reacting), and emphasized the value of appreciating life.
And it didn’t go unnoticed by the Pride when they faced William Paterson the next day.
“When you hear a story like that it’s the last thing you expect to hear when you are conversing with a coach prior to the game,” head coach Mark Simeone said in an interview with the Springfield Student on Tuesday.
“[It was] a tremendous, selfless, heroic effort that I felt needed to be recognized,” added Simeone.
Upon hearing this story, Simeone shared it with his group. And prior to stepping on to the field as opponents, they shared it as gentlemen in a moment of respect.
Following the eight warm up pitches prior to the start of the game, Simeone called across to the Pioneers’ dugout and entire Springfield side tipped their hats in acknowledgement of the courageousness.
“People are asking me about it and saying, ‘oh what a sportsman type of thing to do,’ but I think it pales in comparison to what should be recognized is [the people] who saved another person’s life very heroically and very courageously,” said Simeone. “To me that certainly is worthy of recognition and I felt obligated and strongly about recognizing that effort.”
The act was not simply a motion either. It clearly resonated throughout the group of men donning white and maroon that afternoon.
“Sometimes, especially in Florida, we’ve been waiting and training all winter to play, and there’s a lot of games in a short period of time, you can become all about baseball and forget the other more important aspects of life. This really puts things in perspective,” said Pride senior outfielder Billy Peterson. “It makes you appreciate that you’ve been given the privilege to go down south and just eat, sleep and play baseball, and that these things can be taken away from us so quickly.”
In over 110 years, the Pride baseball team has faced William Paterson just eight times, but it is safe to say that in terms of life lessons, this matchup likely ranks near the top.
Said Peterson, “[It] really humbled me individually, and I was glad we gave him recognition, signifying that his act was greater than anything that would happen on the field that day.”