Good sportsmanship an idea in motion for South Knox Little League players

Published: May. 19, 2017 at 6:08 PM EDT
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Sometimes it seems as though life's lessons are waiting for us at every turn. A lot of times, those lessons are learned in the least expected places, and every now and then, they're provided to us in an unexpected way.

"Be a good sport!" We're taught as youngsters that it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that really matters.

John Lane agrees with that message. He's the head coach of the Bower Field Bulldogs, a Little League baseball team.

"At the end of the day, it's 'have we developed,' 'have we gotten better,'" Coach Lane said. "To me, that's the biggest thing about coaching is demonstrating that sportsmanship and building them up from where they are to where they can be."

The kids playing baseball at Bower Field in South Knoxville have not only taken that old mantra to heart, but they've also taken the whole 'caring for your competitors' message to another level.

"Being a good sport means you're supposed to show loving care to other teams and your team," Richard Coleman said.

Coach Lane's son, Sean, who plays for the Bulldogs, suffers through a muscular issue, which recently landed him in the hospital. As you might expect, the well wishes poured in from his own teammates, but it was the gesture by a fellow team, the Avengers, that really touched young Sean.

"I was surprised,' Sean said. "It made me happy."

Touched by the nice gesture, the Bulldogs forged their own expression of comfort after learning of another player's battle with cancer. Wheels were put into motion for a fundraiser at the park, with each member of Sean's team wearing that player's jersey number.

"Tonight, our whole team has these jerseys on," Coach Lane said. "We're showing support for Anthony. We have his name and number on the back."

Anthony's mom Amber Lyn Rogers was overwhelmed by the gesture.

"It means so much," she said. "I don't know how many times I've looked on my Facebook page, how many times I've cried. I never expected the community to come together like this for one child. It's all about good sportsmanship coming together as one big family."

Good sports, yes, and even better young people showing us that life's lessons are never too late or too early to learn.

"The game keeps going that way, so hopefully in the future, they build with their relationships, their friends and maybe someday their kids and grandkids at the ballpark as well," Coach Lane said.

For those wanting to support Anthony's cause, there is an open invitation to attend the "Bring the Thunder" tournament set up by Coach Lane and friends. The tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, and will be at Bower Field in South Knoxville. Proceeds from admission and concessions will go towards helping Anthony.

Games begin Saturday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.

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