The impossible has happened. Someone took the giddy high of knowing pitchers and catchers report to spring training this weekend (squee!) and amped up my baseball love. His name is Tom Walter, and he's the coolest coach in the NCAA right now. And this week he happens to be recovering from surgery at an Atlanta hospital.
His player, Kevin Jordan, is in that same hospital. And thanks to Walter, the kid who represents the Wake Forest Demon Deacons' best hopes for diamond dreams has a brand new kidney. Oh come on, let the sniffles out. I know I did.
But save some tissues, because the story gets better. Jordan was drafted by the New York Yankees last summer, and this was his first year at Wake Forest. He hadn't even stepped up to the plate for the Demon Deacons when he was diagnosed last year with ANCA vasculitis and told his kidneys were slowly shutting down. But when Walter found out the kid couldn't find a matching donor, he didn't hesitate, nor did his bosses, in backing the donation.
I'm in love with this story for a few reasons. Not the least of which is the need for a little good news related to the Yankees after Andy Pettite's retirement announcement last week (sniff, sniff). But the real driving force here is a college sports program giving something back to one of its athletes in a world where colleges tend to take, take, take and then take some more from their kids.
The NCAA rules prohibit kids from getting any swag (legally anyway) while playing for a university, but colleges rake in millions on their backs. And while coaches remain in the system long after making some pretty big mistakes, most of the kids are thrown out on their ears after a single offense. At the risk of starting up the age-old "should collegiate athletes be paid" argument, it has to be said, the kids are the point of college sports, but they're woefully undervalued.
Walter giving his kidney to Jordan is heartwarming, yes, but it should be a reminder to the sports world that without student athletes, there are no college sports. Sure, the kid hadn't stepped on the diamond in North Carolina yet, but thanks to his coach, he plans to do so later this month.
I'm now officially ready for baseball season; how about you?
Image via mistycabal/Flickr