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In Memoriam –
On Monday, June 25, this world lost an amazing man. A man with a strong will, sometimes a big scary prescience, and an even bigger heart, a coach of mine for over eight years and friend for over 13, I will miss Fred L. LaRock even more than I may realize yet.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to write, some of the memories I was thinking of haven’t been brought up in eight years or more. I’m 25 now, and Fred picked me out of a clumsy group of 12-year-olds to start his ASA softball summer league. I always say to everyone that talks to me about softball, or my youth for that matter, that the summer Fred and I found each other was the summer that changed my life. It was also the summer I fell in a mud puddle trying to impress him and Ron Graves at the Moretown Elementary School field. I didn’t even make the catch, and after Fred pulled himself off the ground from laughing so damn hard at me he yelled: “If you’re gonna run all that way, you might as well catch it.” A line I know so many of his softball players are familiar with, along with my nickname “Puddles,” which pretty much stuck with me until I graduated.
I was a pretty crude young lady; he would just call me young though.I don’t think he ever thought I was a lady. He would always ask how my weekend was, because more times than not I got myself into trouble and he wanted to hear why and/or how. One year he brought new girls onto our summer team, and I kept them out all night before a game. I never lived that one down and he made us run extra that day, since he knew how much I hated running. After all the yelling and torture, he couldn’t wait to hear all the juice I got on the new girls.
My mother says as much as I thank him for making me a great softball player at such a young age, she thanks him for helping her shape my youth. I wasn’t the biggest troublemaker around, but I certainly wasn’t wearing a halo around my head, and Fred really helped guide me on the right path. He kept me busy in the summer, traveling to tournaments playing ASA ball, then in the spring varsity softball; he even found me a winter indoor league to play on just to keep my skills fresh and my head in the game (both softball and life).
A stickler for the rules and for perfection Fred was and, I think we can all agree, a huge influence in so many lives. I wish I could have given him his first state title, along with so many other things. I wish I could give him back the chest hair I so eagerly plucked from his chest after a very serious conversation he was having with our team, but I can’t. And even after all the funny moments and laughs about the memories are had, I still think about how he’ll never give me another pep talk, and how he won’t be there to brighten my day when I’m sulking or being crabby, which I am and often was when he was my coach.
I used to miss him when he was right in front of me. Imagining him not here is still very hard to do. What’s even worse is thinking of all those girls that are 12 and looking for guidance, eager to learn the game of softball, that won’t even get to meet him. Now my stories, his spirit and determination are what will live on in all of us. Every time we take a field or watch someone take a field we’ll think of him. I smile today because of who I am, and who he helped me become.
Miss you, Ferdie…Give them all hell! And keep an eye on your second baseman… you know how good I am at falling; hopefully you’ll catch me a few more times from upstairs.
Samantha K. Seymour