Editor’s note: this is the first of a two-part story. Part two will run in the Thursday edition of the Laurinburg Exchange.
When it came time to select their head coach this past June, the 20-plus members of the North View Harvest Ministries church softball team knew exactly who they wanted to lead them. It was Carol Quick, a member of the church who grew to become an influential figure in many of the team members’ lives over the years.
But before she could become the first female head coach in the history of the Scotland County Parks and Recreation Church Softball League, there was one big hurdle that Quick needed to clear. A nightmarish incident occurring a year earlier at the James L. Morgan Complex not only tested Quick’s inner-strength, but also her desire to ever step foot on the softball field again.
Ultimately, Quick decided that the best way to move forward was to confront the memory of what happened on May 3rd, 2011 directly.
And once she made that decision, Coach Quick was born.
“The thought of even walking back out there and reliving what my family went through was unbearable at first,” Quick said. “I was very hesitant, but I knew deep-down that it was time to close that chapter of my life and start fresh.”
In terms of the grisly event which nearly cut daughter Tiffany Wright Godwin’s life short, Quick only has eye witness accounts to tell her exactly what occurred last year.
When Godwin stepped up to bat that day, not only was it the first church softball league game of the season, but Godwin’s first time ever playing as well. Quick was keeping score of her daughter’s game from the dugout, and was elated when Godwin reached first base on a single. The very next batter would send a ground ball up the middle towards the second baseman, who fielded it and swiped his foot across the bag to catch Godwin in a force-out situation.
Quick’s gaze would then lower to the scorecard to record the play as an out. It was only for a second, but in that brief window tragedy struck.
“I was amazed that God didn’t allow me to see or hear it, and I think there was a reason for that,” Quick said. “But when I looked up, I heard people screaming and saw my daughter flailing out there like a fish. Blood was everywhere, and when Tiffany’s body went lifeless I knew something serious happened at that moment.”
After the second baseman made the force out, he attempted to convert the double play by throwing the ball to first. Instead, the ball left his hand and struck Godwin flush in the face.
Quick’s son Bryant Wright was also in the dugout that evening. And when he ran out on the field to his sister’s aid, he uncovered a grisly sight: Godwin’s face was completely shattered. So great was the impact on her face that pieces of Godwin’s nasal cavity were lodged in the softball, piercing its thick hide.
However, nobody knew the extent of the damage until she was transported to Scotland Memorial Hospital, where upon further inspection it was determined that Godwin’s injuries were far worse than cosmetic. She had begun to experience simultaneous bleeding and swelling of the brain, and the local hospital was under-equipped to handle such traumatic injuries.
The decision to airlift Godwin to Charlotte Memorial Hospital was made, but Godwin (who incredibly enough was semi-conscious by this point) opted against it. And if there was a point early on where Quick saw a light at the end of the tunnel, it was Godwin’s insistence on being driven rather than flown to Charlotte.
“She didn’t want to be airlifted because she was afraid of heights,” Quick said. “It was a funny moment amidst all of the news we were getting, and Tiffany’s good spirits were what helped me remain strong throughout the whole ordeal.”
When they arrived in Charlotte, Godwin’s father Jimmy (who was in Columbia, S.C. when he received the news) had already beaten them there. Quick describes her daughter as a”Daddy’s Girl,” and perhaps it was his presence that sparked Godwin’s turnaround. Further x-rays revealed that the internal bleeding had stopped and her swelling had gone down as well.
Several stitches both inside and outside of Godwin’s head were required, as was an extensive recovery period. But she would live, and the horrific uncertainty that only grew from the moment the ball connected with Godwin’s face was over.
“The doctors told us that they could not understand how she survived it,” Quick said. “She should’ve been dead, and all I can do is credit God and our faith for helping her pull out of that.”
Thus began many months of painful, and frightening, rehabilitation for Godwin. It also meant many months of expenses for Quick and her family, expenses that began to balloon into a growing financial burden. But help in both the financial and spiritual realms came from the local community, including the lower-income residents of Pinewood Park, where Quick was employed as a site manager at the time. They took up a collection to help ease the monetary strain on Godwin’s family who were making the journey from Laurinburg to Charlotte on a daily basis to see their daughter.
And from May 3rd onward, everyone from local residents to perfect strangers notified Quick that her daughter was in their thoughts and prayers.
“That day was a blur, but I do remember that those in attendance started a prayer chain immediately after my daughter was hit by that ball,” Quick said. “I was shutting down emotionally and physically when I saw what my daughter went through, but it was overwhelming to see how the community pulled together in prayer for this one little girl.”
“It showed me that a small town may have differences in opinion from time to time, but when something happens to one of their own they know exactly how to support one another. I’ll never forget that.”
As her condition improved, it became apparent that Godwin was on the path to a full recovery. It was a startling turn of events, considering the graveness of her condition for the hours and days following that fateful encounter at the Morgan Complex.
Running parallel with Godwin’s miraculous path back to normalcy was Quick, whose anxiety faded with each new piece of good news delivered to her by both the doctors and her daughter. And while Godwin was preparing her return to the Morgan Complex, a return that signified her refusal to let this one incident define her life, Quick was also preparing a return of her own.