After Losing Coach, Rockers Win Nationals
'This is what he always wanted': Rockers dedicate title to late head coach
By Dan Tomlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
They did it for Didi.
The Lemont Rockers DD, donning the phrase “Do it for Didi” on the backs of their jerseys for their late head coach Jim “Didi” DiGregorio, won the ASA 18-Under National Championship with a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Sting Elite at Moline's Greenvalley Sports Compex Sunday afternoon.
After the game, an emotional Rockers team and their family and friends filled the diamonds and agreed that they'd put the championship trophy and the jerseys they wore to win the tourney in the casket with their coach.
“This is what he always wanted,” said Alex Legesse, who got the win in the title game. “He treated each one of us as if we were his own kid, and there's nothing we wanted more than to give this to him.”
Coach Didi passed away from a heart attack on Wednesday [see separate post]. The team was left with a tough question: “Should we play or go home?”
“On Wednesday, (assistant coach Al Liermann) came and made the announcement about Jim's passing, and we put it up to the team whether we were going to stay and play or not,” said assistant coach Mike Batts, who assumed head coaching duties the rest of the week. “It was a unanimous decision to stay and play because it's what Jim believed in and what he would've wanted from the girls.”
To some girls it was a no-brainer.
“Andrea Colosimo stood up that night and said, “I don't care if I take the field and it's 1 on 9, I have to be on the field,” Liermann said. “And every girl had that same attitude.”
And in spite of all the adversity, the Rockers made it look easy. Even when trailing, the Rockers seemed to be cool and collected, tying the game just minutes after falling behind 1-0, with Colosimo banging a home run out to left field.
In the third inning, Jessica Roche dropped a double off the wall to plate another, and back-to-back doubles by Lindsey Liermann and Christine Holthus gave Legesse all the help she needed. The Rockers' hurler tossed a complete game, giving up an unearned run to the first batter she faced but never allowing a batter past second the rest of the game, scattering six hits, striking out two and walking none.
“It was a total team effort,” said Legesse. “As much as it looked easy the way we played, it still gets you in your gut when you're out there. You just expect to see him (Coach Didi), and it's hard.
“It was just amazing how one event can bring all of these different people from different places and backgrounds together.”
And if you ask anyone, they'll tell you that's exactly the lesson Coach Didi would've wanted. They did it for him because he did it for them.
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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:10 AM
News release from the Chicago Bandits website, posted 8/4/2008, 12:47 PM:
Posted 14 November 2008 - 04:27 PM
On October 13th, the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association awarded their 2008 Travel Ball Coaching Staff of the Year award to the Lemont Rockers (see separate post). It was a fitting tribute to coach Didi, to Gary Lagesse and Mike Batts who succeeded him as co-head coaches, and to assistant coaches Al Lierman, Pat Rzegoski and Dan Bryant.
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