Fusion players who carried an opposing player to home base are Shannon Chick (Aldergrove

Act of sportsmanship nets team ‘Musial Award’

Fusion players who carried opposing player to home base Shannon Chick (Aldergrove), Shae Domitruk (Maple Ridge), Kristan Rodrgues (Burnaby)

It was the right thing to do.

That is all that was going through the minds of Shannon Chick, Kristan Rodrigues and Shae Domitruk.

This was back in late July, during a playoff game in the provincial championships between the Fraser Valley Fusion 97 fastpitch team and the Surrey Storm 97 at Victoria’s Helmcken Park.

The Storm’s Raelyn Radovich had just belted a three-run home run over the centre-field fence, which tied the game.

But while she was rounding first base, Radovich suffered a knee injury. She limped her way around second base and then third, but the pain became too much to bear and she collapsed.

Since she had rounded third base and was between third and home, she could not stop and call for a pinch runner. And if a teammate or coach was to help her, she would be called out.

That was when the trio sprung into action.

Chick, Rodrigues and Domitruk, hoisted the fallen Radovich up and carried her to home plate so she could tag the base for the tying run.

“If one of our girls happened (to get hurt) and fall, we would have wanted someone to step up and say we are going to take her home as well,” Chick said.

She described the moment as very emotional, with the falling player — and many of the fans in attendance — moved to tears.

“None of us really said anything, it just kind of happened,” said Domitruk.

“I felt bad for her, she totally deserved the home run so we picked her up and carried her home,” Rodrigues said.

The Fusion went on to win that game and eventually finished second at provincials.

But something bigger than winning the silver medal also happened to the team of 16-year-old girls.

“We are always on the look out for extraordinary stories of sportsmanship,” explained Marc Schreiber, the vice-president of the St. Louis Sports Commission.

While the organization does accept nominations, most often they will select the award recipients through their own research.

“We decide on the stories that we think rise to the level of deserving to be honour at the event,” Schreiber said.

“And sure enough, we found what was printed in the Langley Times online,” he said, referring to the story in the Aug. 8 edition of The Times.

The Fusion will receive the Musial Award on Nov. 9 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Named for the late St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Stan Musial, the annual event recognized the greatest moments and stories of sportsmanship.

The award was formerly known as the National Sportsmanship Award and has been presented since 1999.

The Fusion will be the first recipient from outside the United States, Schreiber said.

“In recognition of the team’s extraordinary character and selflessness, we have selected the Fusion to be honored,” it said in email informing to the Fusion of their honour.

“The remarkable on-field gesture by your team reflects the remarkable acts of sportsmanship we strive to highlight and that personify the class and character embodied by Stan the Man.”

Stan the Man was the late Musial’s nickname.

The award will be presented by two former members of the Central Washington softball team who in 2008 did the same with a fallen opponent, in a video that went viral.

“We did not expect this,” said Chick, an Aldergrove resident.

“It means a lot to us as team,” Rodrigues said about getting the award.

The Fusion are hoping to raise enough money to send all 12 players and three coaches to St. Louis for the ceremony. Right now, airfare and accommodation is provided for just two people.

“Hopefully we can raise enough for all 15 of us to go receive the award,” said coach Gord O’Grady.

“It is not really a two-person award, it is a team award.”

The estimated cost for a ticket to St. Louis is about $800 per person, so multiply that by 13 and it is $10,000 just for the airfare.

The various Fusion teams are holding tryouts in the upcoming week and the focus will then shift to fundraising.

Anyone wanting to help can donate online at www.langleysoftball.com/Langley-Fastball-Online-Store.aspx. And for donations greater than $300, the Fusion will display company logos on their team banner.

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