THE BEST OF ME: When I first realize the healing power of a sports team

In May of 1993, I wrote the following story for the Bangor Daily News. Personally, I can really start to see a maturity in my writing from the last item shared from 1992. But this story really hit home for me in a sense that I truly began to see how a sports team can also become a family. The tragic death of a 15-year-old girl as seen through the eyes of teammates really hit a chord with me and I realized trying to capture the emotion inside a story is really important. I just hope I did Mylissa Moors justice in this piece.

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Central players try to cope after death of teammate

EAST CORINTH — They played softball again at Central High School on Thursday. But it wasn’t the same.

There was an emptiness, a hollow feeling inside each and every Red Devil player. Someone very special was missing.

Last Saturday, at 6:06 a.m., 15-year-old Mylissa Moors was killed in a car accident in Kendusgkeag. Moors was a sophomore at Central. She was the Red Devils’ starting left fielder.

Her death sent the Central players on a week-long emotional rollercoaster ride through reality. Tears have been shed, memories have been shared.

Even a 16-4 victory over Penobscot Valley of Howland on Thursday afternoon did little to ease the hurt, to fill up the sickly empty feeling sitting stagnant inside of them, or even dry up the tears.

Only time can do that.

The Central softball team has decided to deal with the death of their friend and teammate the same way they win and lose games — as a team.

“We had a meeting Saturday morning and I told the kids I was ready to forfeit those games,” said Central Coach Mike Thomas, referring to a scheduled Saturday doubleheader against Schenck. “But the kids said, ‘No. We’re better off here together.'”

Central split the twinbill, but more important results were at stake than just wins or losses.

“A lot of them asked, ‘Why?; some took a step back and said, ‘It could have been me;’ others say it makes you realize how fragile life is,” said Mike Hatch, Central’s athletic director. “I thought it was good for the girls to be together, to let the healing process start. It was a big step for the team, to begin to go through the mourning process.”

“I don’t think many of us wanted to play, but we felt we needed to be together,” said Cheri Greatorex, a senior shortstop. “It was hard to play. Our minds kept wandering.”

Central postponed Tuesday’s game against Piscataquis Community and did not practice either Monday or Tuesday, the days of the wake and funeral.

Instead, they tried to cope and understanding, leaning on one another, their families, or counselors made available by the school.

After all, most of these girls are 15-to-18 years old. They haven’t even learned about life yet. Why in the world wold the cruel hand of fate force them to learn about death?

It’s a question that has gone unanswered throughout the ages. The kids of East Corinth are no exception.

“I don’t understand why it happened,” said Greatorex. “I’m sure nobody understands. That’s a common question. Why? Why her? I don’t know. There  have been a lot of things going through my mind. I’ve never been through something like this before. We all feel it. We keep thinking about it. It’s hard to see a young person like that die.”

On week prior to Thursday’s game against PVHS, Moors had a home run and a single in her final game, a close to loss to PCHS.

She was also the starting goaltender for Central’s field hockey team.

Moors will be remembered much more as a person than as an athlete, though.

“She was one of the best people I’ve ever met,” said Greatorex, who became one of Moors’ close friends. “I loved her. She was fun to be with and she was a quality person.”

“She was a little spitfire,” added centerfielder Beth Miller. “She’d do anything for anybody. It makes you mad. I wish she was still here.”

Thomas added, “The kids will remember her every time they step on the field.”

Miller says she still looks over to left field, thinking she might see Moors out there. Moors best friend on the team, second baseman Savannah Bodwell, digs in a little deeper when she has to make a play. Teammates are constantly pulling each other back up when one of them gets down.

“I think we’re still feeling the effects,” said Greatorex. “We’re thinking about it a lot. This whole week has been the toughest week of my life. Hopefully, it will pull us all closer together.”

They played softball again at Central High School on Thursday. But it wasn’t the same.

It never will be, not without Mylisssa Moors in the outfield.

Still, the Red Devils are healing themselves and they play on with a friend and a teammate only a memory away.”


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