Leftovers: A few extra thoughts on Heart Has No Limit

Cole Freeman spreading his Heart Has No Limit message to some youngsters in May.
(Photo courtesy of Cole Freeman)
Four words made up of 15 letters along 10 inches of his torso. Bet that hurt.
(Photo courtesy of Cole Freeman)

In case you missed it, my story on Potomac Nationals second baseman Cole Freeman posted last week on InsideNova.com. You can find it here. My story focused less on Freeman’s baseball talents (more on that below) and more on his efforts to motivate young people with his Heart Has No Limit message. It was one of the coolest stories I’ve reported in the three years I’ve been side-hustling for InsideNova. I could’ve written so much more, but I only had so much space. Thankfully, I can shine a light on some leftover nuggets right here.

  • I likely wouldn’t have written about Freeman at all had I not stumbled upon Jeffrey Marx’s brilliant piece from 2017, which I urge you to read here. Jeff, who in 1986, at age 23, became the youngest writer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, profiled Freeman as a senior at LSU. I thought it might be cool to write an updated piece on Freeman and focus more on the Heart Has No Limit Ambassador program. Writers generally don’t interview other writers — we are the story-tellers, not the story — but I thought it was important to talk to Jeff. And he couldn’t have been more gracious with his time. My story was better because of his insights, and I thank him for that. Check out Jeff’s site, and his books, here.
  • Oh yeah, Cole Freeman is a damn good baseball player, too. So good, I was afraid he might get promoted to Double-A Harrisburg by the time I finished my reporting. As of this writing (July 8), Cole leads the P-Nats in batting average (.300), stolen bases (18), runs (52) and hits (92). He’s a slick second baseman, but he’s also spent some time roaming centerfield this season, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s fun to watch.
  • Meritt McKittrick is one of the most remarkable human beings I’ve ever known, young or old. As told in the story, she was paralyzed from the waist down at age 5 in a horrific car crash. The way she’s dealt with her situation makes her the absolute perfect ambassador for Heart Has No Limit. She’s just a teenager, but she’s wise beyond her years and is a tremendous role model for others to follow. Meritt was introduced to wheelchair athletics as a freshman in high school. She didn’t want to participate at first, but she begrudgingly went through with it. By the time she graduated this past May, she had won two Texas High School state titles (in the 100- and 400-meter races) to go with two silver medals and two bronze medals. She finished 2nd in the 100 as a senior and was certainly disappointed, but she cared more about growing the sport and giving hope to so many others who need it, just like she did.
    “I’m not one to like losing,” she said. “I got done with the race and I was smiling. I was happy she beat me. It proved to me that even when I’m gone, the talent will keep improving each year.”
    I mean, c’mon. How do you not love that?
  • Never did my wife and I envision ourselves tailgating before a Single-A minor league baseball game. But there we were, in a half-empty parking lot with Cole’s family before a game against the Carolina Mudcats last month. The Freemans brought a little SEC flair to Woodbridge that night. We could use a little more of that, honestly. So thank you to Sean, Kellie, Kacey, and Taylor for inviting us. (And for the #colbeer!)
From left: Kellie, Cole, Sean, Kacey, and Taylor at the Carolina League All-Star Game on June 18, 2019 in Frederick, Md.
(Photo courtesy of Cole Freeman).

Thanks for reading, y’all!

Remembering Mackin and the best work family I’ll ever have

I still can’t believe Mackin is gone.

It’s been nearly a month since Jeff McIntyre died, and I find myself thinking about him — or about something he loved — nearly every day. Like those old SNL clips of Will Ferrell playing Harry Caray (note this site’s tag line about hot dogs). Or the rice and beans from Popeyes. “Best you’ll ever have,” he used to say.

Mackin died after a short, but valiant, battle with cancer, leaving behind a wife, two children, and two grandsons he absolutely adored. Mackin was my Assistant Sports Editor at the Florence (Ala.) TimesDaily from 2006-09. He covered our alma mater, the University of North Alabama, for two decades.

The day I heard about his diagnosis, maybe early May, I booked my flight to Alabama. Sadly, he passed away a few days before my trip. It still crushes me that I never got a chance to say goodbye. I did, however, get a chance to spend some time with a few old friends and co-workers. We shared stories about Mackin and agreed that newsroom was probably the best work atmosphere we’ll ever experience. We laughed, we bickered, we laughed some more, and we put out a product we were always (almost always?) proud of. You can’t ask for much more than that.

My job was to design and edit the sports section, and I’ve posted some of my old cover designs below. Mackin and ol’ Julio (our sports editor) always gave me the freedom to take chances, make mistakes, and get a little wacky with my designs, something for which I’ll forever be grateful. Every now and then, I’d catch Mackin trying to mimic some of my designs on those rare nights he laid out pages.

What an honor that was.

Coming soon!

Hey there. I created this site so I could have a place to post some of my freelance work for InsideNova.com and other outlets. I’ll also post some of the stories I wrote back when I did this full-time. It’ll be fun to re-read some of my past work, and I hope you guys enjoy. Fingers crossed, I’ll have my first story posted in the next week or so.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope y’all come back real soon!

For now, here’s a cool picture to look at. I snapped this as the sun set over Laguna Beach, Calif., during a recent trip. Neat!

Laguna