Think About It

Doing a Mallory

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | August 29, 2009

"One man practicing good sportsmanship is better than 50 others preaching it."
Knute K. Rockne

Every now and then we come across a person who demonstrates exceptional sportsmanship. When that happens, we all sit up and take notice. Everyone should take a long hard look at Mallory Holtman. 

It happened on August 26, 2008 during the last regular season home game for the Central Washington University Wildcats. Mallory was their veteran first baseman batting over .360 for her career. She held the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's career record for home runs. Her team was playing the second game of a double header against the Western Oregon University Wolves. The Wildcats had lost the first game 8-1 and if they lost the second game, they would be eliminated from post season play. This was Mallory's last chance in college to make the playoffs. 

One writer called what she did a "moment of grace." And it came after Sara Tucholsky, a senior for the Wolves, hit what appeared to be a three-run homer against the Wildcats. Sara was only batting .153 and she had never hit a homerun. 

Mallory watched the ball disappear over the fence and slowly walked over to the pitcher's mound to commiserate with her teammates. Their whole season was at risk by that one swing of the bat. 

As the first two runners scored, Sara rounded first and was on her way to second when her coach yelled for her to stop and come back. She had missed first base. And as she turned, her cleats caught in the dirt and her right knee tore apart. All she could do was to crawl the remaining eight feet or so back to the base where she hugged the bag. 

Now what? She couldn't run around the bases. If anyone from her team tried to help her, she would be called out. The umpires and coaches struggled with the dilemma. They wanted to help Sara but they also wanted to be fair. In the middle of the confusion that went on for a few minutes, Mallory walked over and said, "Excuse me. Would it be O.K. if we carried her around and she touched each bag?" 

The umpires huddled and said it would be legal. So just like that Mallory invited her friend, Liz Wallace, the Wildcats shortstop, to join her and they lifted Tucholsky and carried her to second base, gently lowered her so she could touch the bag. They went on to third base and when they crossed home plate, everyone in the stands was on their feet giving them a standing ovation. 

The final score of the game was 4-2. That homerun cost the Wildcats the game and any hope of making the playoffs. It really was Mallory's last college game. 

Why would she do something like that? Later Mallory simply said, "She hit it over the fence. She deserved it. Anybody would have done it. I just beat them to it." 

Now that is true sportsmanship. I would call it awe inspiring. Accolades came from all over the country. To honor exemplary service, one company even identified the exceptional efforts of their employees as "Doing a Mallory." 

Mallory's gesture stands out in stark contrast to the "win at all costs" that often dominates athletic competition. I remember the antics of Woody Hayes, the famous football coach of Ohio State University who, during his 28 year career, won five national titles and 13 Big Ten Conference Championships. But he will also always be remembered for his uncontrolled temper when he lost. 

Unfortunately, Woody Hayes was not an exception. The list of poor losers is longer than I can cite here. Even Allen Iverson once said, "I would rather win than have good sportsmanship." I am glad he is no longer playing in Philadelphia. 

Mike Marshall said it well, "Victory is the quality of the competition, not the final score." 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu
You're Watching: My name is Michael Stetson and this is my story