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I took a picture Saturday that you will never see.
It was a great picture, maybe one of the best I’ve taken in a long time.
It was from the Battle of the Bluegrass softball tournament and featured a young girl and her coach.
In the middle of an at-bat, the coach wrapped her arms around the girl and helped her with her batting stance. With great patience, she showed the girl how to hold her arms in the correct position and reminded her to keep her shoulders up.
In the young girl’s eyes, you can see the deep attention she was paying to her coach’s instruction. The girl had a deep sweet smile that began to creep across her face.
There was a special tenderness that jumped out at me when I saw it. There was a lot of love in that photo.
The Battle of the Bluegrass is a softball qualifier for the Special Olympics and because of the nature of the event; there were a few different rules I had to follow while taking pictures.
Some of the athletes are adopted from or given up by their birth parents for various reasons and some of those parents may be looking for the children. The safety and health of the kids could be in danger.
Because of this, I was asked to be very careful on which athletes I took pictures of and even more careful on which photos we published.
Normally, if someone is in a public setting, such as a ball game, accident scene or on public property, they are fair game for photographers regardless of age or circumstance. We don’t need permission to take photos or publish what we want. From time to time, I’ve had to explain this to people and usually, they aren’t too pleased with it.
This was a different circumstance.
All these athletes had been diagnosed with a learning disability and some came from very difficult backgrounds.
I made sure to get approval from the coaching staff before any of these photos were selected for publication.
But my favorite photo of the girl and her coach won’t be published.
I liked the photo so much I went ahead and sent it to coaching staff. I felt it was such a moving picture that I thought the coach would want a copy.
As I stared at the photo, I thought about the dedication that is required by adults to take on such an enormous and important task as working with young people with a learning disability or may have come from an abusive background and inviting them to become part of your family and raise them as your own.
Most of us spend our days working about our own families, what those crazy Republicans or dirty Democrats are doing in Washington or will we be able to buy a new car or flat-screen television.
But this picture, a frozen moment, forced me to think about how much we give to other people and to the most vulnerable and needy people. This simple picture made me want to be a better person and to help the people who need it most.
With war, refugee children crossing our country’s border and political intrigue dominating the news, the picture and the story behind it made me happy and proud that there are better people in the world than me, people who are willing to work, fight and sacrifice for the good of others.
Their work and what they do for children who many of us don’t think about on a regular basis is what makes a society worth living in.
After I sent the picture to the coaches, I spoke to one of them. There was a reason that the love and bond between this girl and her coach was so evident in the photo.
The coach was also the girl’s adopted mother. Working on her batting stance was not just a teachable moment between coach and player. It was a connection of love and tenderness between mother and trusting, eager daughter.
It was uplifting to see these young people dedicate themselves to a sport Saturday and to unite for a common goal of having fun.
But this quiet, brief moment between mother and daughter was easily the best play of the day.