By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–There’s something about second-chances in sports, some may call it a ‘second-life’ in a baseball game or a ‘second-chance’ after a injury to name a few.
Everything was riding high for Noah Boatwright entering the Triple-A Playoffs in 2016, completing a successful High School career at North Salem High School and was a solid component to the Withnell Dodgers in the infield had the then-soon-to-be-freshman at Chemeketa Community College looking to finish the summer strong entering Fall Camp with the Storm.
But while running the bases during the playoffs, a head-first slide resulted in a dislocated shoulder that shelved the middle-infielder just shy of his college career; and as he walked out of Volcanoes Stadium after the Dodgers were elimanted by the Grants Pass Nuggets, you knew the frustrations were there sitting out of a major tournament like that one.
“Yeah it was super frustrating because I’ve never sat out a major tournament like that due to injury,” said Boatwright. “Like all the years dating back to Little League and stuff like that, I’ve never missed significant time due to a injury, so having to rehab and going through all that it was definitely an interesting experience at least, especially because it was at the end of my senior year and I was going into college, it was unexpected.
“It was definitely tough, but I’m definitely glad to be back now and playing.”
More about that journey back here as for the next few months following the injury, Boatwright rehabbed, strengthening that joint, those shoulder ligaments and those muscles around his non-throwing shoulder; not knowing if he’ll even come out to play for the Dodgers this summer or not.
“It was hard knowing that there wasn’t a lot I could do, like at all because I was hurt and for me that’s a new concept because I’m young and you don’t get hurt when your young,” described Boatwright on the process of rehab. “And that was a major injury that I was not ready for mentally and throughout the whole thing I think I matured a little bit in my approach toward the injury and I figured that if I want to get back, I need to do the things what these people are telling me to do.
“I need to rehab, I need to ice because I was hesitate to do all that because I was like, ‘what’s the point? I’m not going back and play’, but I made it through all my rehab and saw the results.”
He was eventually able to hit again, to throw again and go through the motions even though it wasn’t his throwing arm, he treated it as if it was his throwing arm in the process of rehab.
And as the winter became spring, Boatwright was given the opportunity to coach the JV squad at his Alma Mater, not even months after hearing his name called out on the Viking stage on the football field off of 14th and D Street, he was back on the diamond with the boys of spring and summer at Baker and 15th where he was a first-team All-GVC as a senior a year before.
The experience was something beneficial to see the other side of the game from a nine-person angle instead of where he played; but from that side, that infamous itch to play again that a bunch of us as athletes have came around as he found himself practicing with the kids and eventually taking hacks in the batting cage is when he realized love the game too much not to take one last hack at it when he had the chance.
“I couldn’t even help it, I’d practice with the kids sometimes just because I miss it so much so I knew I had to definitely go back to play Legion ball,” said Boatwright on the process leading up to the decision. “I was up in the air, I wasn’t sure, I was young enough and I was like, ‘I don’t know’ but definitely coaching, I was like, ‘I need to go back, this is way to much fun’, just hitting in the cage I just want to watch the ball fly, I miss the action.”
“A lot of people helped me get to that choice but after last year I thought I was done forever but everyone was like, ‘don’t be so hasty with your decisions’ so I reconsidered, I did my rehab and I’m feeling better than ever.”
So, June 3 came around and he was donning the same Withnell Dodger uniform that he wore the season before and easing his way back from the injury he suffered nearly a year ago; since their game versus the Gresham Advance Metals on June 4, Boatwright is 11-24 with 5 RBIs for the Dodgers as he is trying to enjoy the summer without thinking too much about the future.
“As long as you work hard, I had to work really hard, it took me four months to rehab, “So as long as you work hard at it you can get back in there, but it was definitely challenging because I can still see effects of the injury.” starts Boatwright.
“I know my time on the field maybe wrapping up in-between the white lines, but yeah, I’m not trying to think about that, I’m just trying to think about going to the field every day and think about putting in the time, think about the process and just think about the little things like my swing instead of the big picture because if I think about the big picture I’ll realize how close it is to the end.”
Some people call it a second chance at that sporting life, but one thing is for certain, Noah Boatwright is finding the way to live it up and take full advantage of his second-chance on the diamond.