Editor’s note: this is the second and final segment of a two-part story which began in the Wednesday edition of the Laurinburg Exchange.
To say Tiffany Wright Godwin was feeling apprehensive about her return to the James L. Morgan recreation complex is an understatement. It was mere weeks after her life-threatening collision with a softball, and Godwin’s face was still firmly wrapped in bandages when Scotland County Parks and Recreation director Al Blades drove up to her in his Gator transportation vehicle shortly before a church league softball game.
Her physical wounds were healing, but her mental and emotional wounds still lingered freshly in the 27 year-old’s mind. But drowning out her own anxieties was the need to prove to her two young children, soon-to-be husband and family that she was as tough as they all knew her to be.
With a thousand thoughts buzzing in her head, and stands packed with onlookers awaiting her arrival, Godwin allowed Blades to drive her out to Field 3 where “it” had happened.
“I was very hesitant at first, because I didn’t want to see the field where I got injured and I surely didn’t want people to see me in a weakened state either,” Godwin said. “But I knew that if I continued to push all my fears deep down, they would come boiling back up when I least expected it. I knew I had to deal with the fear.”
As Blades ventured out to the field with Godwin in tow, the crowd on-hand (many of whom were there to witness Godwin’s horrific injury on May 3rd, 2011) rose to its feet and gave Godwin a rousing ovation. And for all of the days that Godwin sat in a hospital bed unable to move while she slowly regained her health, it only took those first few seconds of applause to make Godwin’s unease melt away so she could truly begin the rehabilitation process.
“It really touched me to see everybody out there cheering for me and welcoming me back,” Godwin said. “I felt like a country queen at that moment, and it made me ready to get back out there and play softball again. Of course, nobody allowed me to do that!”
By Godwin’s side throughout the whole ordeal was mother Carol Quick, who also carried pressing doubts about revisiting her daughter’s brush with death. But just like Godwin, Quick had garnered a reputation for being tough-minded and wasn’t about to let one instance change that perception in the minds of those closest to her.
The brave return of her daughter in the summer of 2011 did much to repair Quick’s damaged psyche. But the second part of the healing process came when the 2012 Parks and Recreation Church Softball League appeared on the summer horizon, and the members of North View Harvest Ministries team elected Quick to be their coach.
A unique opportunity presented itself to Quick, an opportunity to put the memory of May 3rd behind her forever. The team had chosen Quick because of her toughness and the respect she commanded from them, but when she opted to accept the offer there was another person on her mind. Someone who was not only a friend and fellow North View Harvest Ministries church member, but also a man who reminded Quick in her adult years what having fun on the softball field truly meant.
That man was Larry Poole. For every year since his 2006 death on a Honduran mission trip, the “Larry Poole Sportsmanship Award” has been given out at the end of each church league season to the team exhibiting the best behavior on and off the field. And it was that award which gave Quick all the additional motivation she needed to become a coach for the first time in her life.
“Even after the team asked me to be its’ coach, I was still skeptical about doing it,” Quick said. “But then I thought about my daughter and Larry, and I knew it was time to close the chapter on what happened to Tiffany and to also bring Larry home. He was such a huge part of our softball team and our church that it became our motto all season long: Bringing Larry Home.”
As a youth growing up in McColl, S.C., Sundays quickly became the highlight of Quick’s week. Because on that day, 20-30 of the neighborhood kids would arrive at her parent’s big piece of property and play softball. Quick never played for the Fighting Scots or for any youth team in general, but the fun she had on those Sunday afternoons was never forgotten.
So when she became known as coach Quick, Carol established the expectations she had for her team right from the opening meeting. First, they had to practice and invest themselves in the team, or they would not be a part of the team.
And most importantly, Coach Quick made them promise to have fun.
“Larry always told us that there was no point in playing softball if you weren’t having fun,” Quick said. “We weren’t just representing ourselves, we were representing God and our church. There was no way I would allow my players to cop an attitude out there and put our church in a negative light, because playing softball is about having fun first and foremost.”
With coach Quick’s words and the memory of Poole guiding them, the North View Harvest Ministries team played through the season. Their regular season record and league tournament performance placed them sixth out of seven teams in the league, but every player on Coach Quick’s squad fulfilled their promise and had fun.
And when the season wrapped up, it was announced that Coach Quick’s team would be the recipients of the Larry Poole Sportsmanship Award. It was the first time that North View Harvest had ever won the award named after its former church member, and perhaps most fitting of all was where the ceremony took place.
Presented by Blades, the award was given to Coach Quick on Field 3.
“The award meant so much to all of us because in terms of sportsmanship, this was by far the best year I’ve ever seen for Parks and Rec church softball,” Quick said. “I never discussed with anyone what my emotions were like walking out on that field to accept that award. All I can say is that I felt closure.”
So ended Coach Quick’s run as the first-ever female head coach of a Parks and Rec Church Softball League team. By completing her first coaching tenure, Quick added her own unique chapter to the Quick family coaching legacy. Husband N.W. Quick was a Parks and Rec youth football coach for more than 50 years, his son Norman is currently an offensive line coach for the varsity Fighting Scots, and Norman’s son Matt was recently hired to bolster the Scots’ JV football coaching staff as well.
And after the softball season was finished, Carol Quick’s future as a softball head coach was cemented when her team asked her one simple question: “Will you have us back?”
“I told them I’d return if only they’d have ME back,” Quick said. “I really enjoyed my first season, and it will be nowhere near my last as a coach.”
Sitting next to her in the dugout for the years to come will be daughter Tiffany Wright Godwin.
“She put her heart and soul into coaching this season,” Godwin said. “She’s gonna do it next year, and all I know is that I’ll be right there beside her the whole way.”