SALTVILLE, Va. – Numbers are a vital part of the sport of softball as you well know.
Northwood High School senior Miranda McGlocklin wears No. 12.
She will stand 43 feet away from Rappahannock County pitcher Abbey McClary today at 3 p.m. as she takes her hacks in a VHSL Class 1 state semifinal game at Radford University.
McGlocklin’s stat line features a .347 batting average, three home runs and 25 RBIs.
Yet, there are more meaningful numbers that occurred outside the lines of a softball field – in a hospital – that make McGlocklin the state tournament’s most inspirational player regardless of classification.
She underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy and 17 radiation treatments after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Aug. 13, 2014 at the age of 13. She has been in remission for more than four years now and plays center field for a team that is now two wins away from a state title.
She’s also a volleyball standout.
She was the school’s homecoming queen and was selected as Miss Northwood.
She placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at the state track and field meet.
For many folks, McGlocklin’s merits go well beyond the numbers.
“I can’t imagine what she went through,” said Northwood coach B.J. Buchanan. “It’s amazing to see where she’s at now.”
It was a routine physical, one taken so she could play middle-school volleyball.
She had scoliosis so the doctor’s wanted to run an X-Ray just to check things out.
The scan found a cancerous growth near her heart and in a small place under her arm.
She can still remember receiving the words on Aug. 13, 2014 that changed her life forever.
“The scariest part was the diagnosis for me,” McGlocklin said. “The first person that came to the house besides family after we found out was Lexie Woodward, who’s our second baseman. I met her on the front porch and we hugged and we cried for hours.”
No person is prepared for such news, especially when you are in the eighth grade.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. … When I heard those words – Hodgkin’s lymphoma – it’s like my heart dropped and I couldn’t breathe,” Woodward said. “You hear of this stuff happening all the time, but when it’s your best friend you panic and your mind wanders to the worst. When I got home after visiting her I stayed in my room and would barely come out.”
McGlocklin spent time at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, enduring a battery of those energy-draining chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She lost her hair, but she never lost her optimism.
“The girls were putting together fundraisers back home and always checking on me and they were there for me,” McGlocklin said. “They always tried to keep my mind off it and that really helped.”
The treatments worked and by the spring she defied the odds and was back on the softball field.
This time, Woodward and McGlocklin cried tears of joy.
“The moment I was told she was cancer free, I had tears rolling down my face,” Woodward said. “I knew God had a plan for her life that day.”
Back on the field, McGlocklin has taken nothing for granted.
“Absolutely,” McGlocklin said. “I appreciate it so much more. I loved sports anyway, but to have it almost taken away from me. I hated not being able to get out and play and not being with my team who I love so much.”
Watching McGlocklin play, one would never know that just five years ago she was in a far more serious battle than a softball game.
“She brings power, speed and intensity,” Buchanan said. “She’ll swing and miss and she’ll get so mad at herself. It’s like she can’t stand it. You can just see the intensity.”
Athletes draw inspiration from different sources.
For Miranda McGlocklin, extra motivation comes from many places.
There’s a small tattoo on her right wrist with the date of May 28, 2012 in roman numerals. That is the day her grandfather, Randall Joe Evans, passed away.
“He also had a type of cancer, his was Ewing Sarcoma and he was 58 when he passed,” McGlocklin said. “He was not only my papaw, but he was also my best friend and someone I could share anything with. I miss him every single day. He passed a couple years before I was diagnosed with my cancer. I believe that is another reason why I wasn’t as scared when I was diagnosed. I knew in my heart that my papaw was with me protecting me. … I decided to have the tattoo done before my graduation, that way he could be with me as I received my diploma.”
McGlocklin can glance up in the stands during a game, locate her parents – Chad and Lisa – and exchange a smile. That’s inspiring for all three of them.
“It’s indescribable,” said Lisa McGlocklin. “Every time Miranda stepped on the volleyball court, track or softball field I get tears of joy.”
Then there is oft-cited comment that Miranda McGlocklin has memorized and even used as her senior quote: “From every wound there is a scar and every scar tells a story. A story that says I survived.”
She is a survivor.
“Absolutely, it is something I take inspiration from,” Miranda McGlocklin said. “My scars tell my story and at first I hated them. I even considered surgery to fix them but as I sit down and I think about everything that I have went through, I wouldn’t trade my scars for anything. It allows me to truly see how strong of a person I really am. … I am blessed beyond measure to be here today.”
By being here, McGlocklin has inspired those around her.
“Miranda is one of the strongest and bravest people I know,” said Northwood third baseman Catie Bordwine. “She fought through the toughest thing and I couldn’t imagine having to go through what she did. She was so strong through it all and always so positive. It was hard to imagine how someone’s life can change in one day and what all she endured to beat it.”
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