Kirk Whitby from Mechanicsville, VA
QUESTION: This has been an exciting year... in sports, of course! With only one month to go, think back on 2018 and let us know what you think is the most inspiring, amazing, or uplifting sports story of the year. In other words, the one story that really had an impact on you, the one you will never forget. AND, tell us why that specific story has had a personal impact on you. We can’t wait to hear your pick!
WINNING ANSWER: Bryce Harper’s Dad pitching to him while he won the Home Run Derby was the sports story that touched me most directly this year. This year, my son made his first all-star team, and it was the first time he’s shown real zeal for the game of baseball. He set the goal of making all-stars this year, so we worked as early as the second week of January on accomplishing that goal. All the days of hard work and bonding meant the world to me. That said, watching the Harpers celebrate at the end of the Derby made me think of my son who was sitting next to me at home. I think it’s a moment that resounds with every baseball Dad that gets home from work, exhausted and filthy, but can’t help but oblige that smiling face when your kid says, “Can we throw for a while, Daddy?” or “Can we work on hitting before the sun goes down?” It was a great moment that just shows me that, even when they grow up, the kids will remember and appreciate the time you put in with them. I hope that’s true for mine at least. I hope he swings for the fences in life, and I hope we get to celebrate his successes together. Just like the Harpers did. (Wouldn’t mind being as jacked as Bryce’s Dad when I hit that age either.)
QUESTION: Tell us who you are most thankful for in your sports life. Your coach, a teammate, your Mom – who? Let us know why you appreciate that person, and include specific reasons for your gratitude, maybe even a good story that shows how amazing they are.
WINNING ANSWER: I am so grateful for my brother. Not only is he my best friend, but he is my coach, my turn-two partner, and my teammate. My brother is seven years older than me, and introduced me to this beautiful sport. When I was much younger, he coached my Little League team, even though he was much younger than all of the other coaches. He just loves the game, and wanted to teach other kids my age the fundamentals of playing ball. We would always go out to batting cages whenever he had some extra money, and just get our hacks going. Every holiday, whether it be Christmas or April Fool's, we had a tradition to go out and practice (mainly because the field wasn’t busy). My brother has so much love for the game; he doesn’t stop grinding to get better every day. I am lucky enough to play with him, and turn double plays, since he’s a shortstop and I was a second baseman. My brother is a family man now, and doesn’t really have the time to play because he has two beautiful girls, Riley (2) and Scarlet (5 months). I have not seen my brother in almost a year now since I’ve joined the Army, and I truly miss having a great time together talking ball and just tossing the ball around. I am hoping to see him around the holidays, if I get a chance to go home for a couple of weeks, and have one of our traditional holiday practices. I love my brother - he's my role model and I look up to him. But, most importantly, I struck him out on a 3-2 fastball at our high school alumni game.
PRIZE: Along with winning the glove, the November 2018 winner will receive customized Nokona ShowBelts for him and his brother as the "Nokona Surprise".