Darrington softball team enjoys a bit of normal at game
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
In spite of rain and heavy hearts at home, members of the Darrington High School JV and varsity softball teams rally together before their game against Sedro-Woolley High School in Sedro-Woolley Wednesday afternoon. Several members of the team stayed in Darrington to continue helping with the ongoing relief effort. Photo taken 20140326
Wednesday afternoon, some of them got to see a familiar sight: a softball field.
The Darrington High School junior varsity team and several varsity players took on Sedro-Woolley in a game at Janicki Fields on Wednesday. It was a chance for the team to get a little normalcy after a trying week after Saturday's deadly mudslide.
"This is good for them," said Darrington varsity coach Sue Howard. "It's a positive thing. This is something they know. And they needed a break. They've been so immersed in all that other stuff. They needed a break."
Many of the girls have helped in recovery efforts. Taryn Tamez, Breanna Valencia and Marissa Pennington are three players that have helped pack lunches and prepare and serve dinner for the Darrington community as it recovers from the Oso mudslide.
The trio estimated they've made more than 1,000 peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese and turkey and cheese sandwiches since Saturday.
"We've been making lots and lots of sandwiches," said Tamez, a sophomore.
The players even found time to make a few sandwiches before catching the bus to their softball game in Sedro-Woolley. Once here, however, they got to play a game they love for a couple of hours and avoid thinking about everything going on back in their hometown.
Which wasn't easy.
"I think that it was good to get away from the town a little bit," Pennington said. "We got our minds off of what's happening there. But it's still hard."
Added Valencia: "When you're playing it just gets your mind off of it. It helps a lot. It's a really good stress reliever, too. It really helps."
Darrington High School Athletic Director Cory Ross said it was important to try to return the athletes' lives to normal, if possible.
"To get the kids' lives back to the way they were — or close to the way they were — is a huge focus," Ross said. "We really want to get everything back to normal as best we can so they can see how the season goes and maybe give them something to cheer for."
Sedro-Woolley coaches talked to Darrington coach Howard to see if the Loggers were still up for the game. Howard said her players wanted to show everybody that the team — like the Darrington community — was rallying.
"It was a great opportunity for the team. It was a JV game and everybody came," Howard said. "Everybody was supporting one another. Some are running on very little sleep, but they came here today and saw it as an opportunity to support our town and show people that even in this hard case, we're still pulling together."
There was also another unusual situation that arose in the game: the Sedro-Woolley players were concerned about being upbeat around Darrington's.
The Loggers welcomed the happiness.
"The coaches talked to us and they said, 'Our girls want to support your girls in any way, but we've got a couple of kids that might be laughing because they're having a good time. Is that OK?'" said Howard. "We said, 'Let them. Our kids need to hear that. They need to do that, too. They deserve to have some fun.'"
It wasn't just nice for the Darrington players. It was nice for the parents, as well.
Robbi Bryson, whose daughter, Summer, plays for the Loggers, said it's tough not to think about the tragedy. However, she's not surprised at the hard work put in by the Darrington community — including the softball team.
"No matter the situation, that's Darrington," Bryson said. "They want to help. They want to do what they can. It doesn't surprise me. That's just Darrington. The best people in the world are from Darrington."
Darrington held an 8-7 advantage when the game was called in the fourth inning — Sedro-Woolley had reserved the field for an hour and 45 minutes, and the time was up.
They were leading, but the score was unimportant to the Loggers.
Or, really, anyone else.
"I guarantee, both teams don't know the score," Howard said. "And it wasn't about the score today. Today was just about being together, having a good time, being positive and just taking something away from it in a positive light that everybody can feel good about. I think it's really cool."
David Krueger covers high school sports for The Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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