More than just a game
To some, baseball is just another sport.
But to others, it means so much more.
This tournament season has been special for a Junior Dixie Boys team member, Devin Hooks, and his family for more important reasons than all the success shared on the diamond.
On August 10, just six days after the final game of the upcoming World Series in Dothan, Devin’s father, Daren Hooks, will be headed to Afghanistan as part of the Alabama Army National Guard.
While that knowledge would be difficult for anyone involved, Devin has decided to use it as motivation, as he is focused on doing everything he can to make this as memorable of a summer for not only him, but for his father, as well.
“I have been working as hard as possible,” he said. “I know he loves watching me play, so I want to do the best job I can every time I am on the field.
“This means everything to me right now – nothing else matters,” he added.
This will be Daren’s second tour of duty with the National Guard, with the first taking place in July of 2006 when he went to Kuwait.
This current tour will take him away from home for 15 months, meaning this will be his last chance to watch his son play Dixie baseball.
“Watching Devin play this summer has been the highlight of my year,” Daren said.
“This will be my last time to watch him play for a long time, so to see him and his team go this far has been wonderful.
“You always hope to see your child go to something like (the World Series) and you always hope to see that team win it. But Devin has played really well up to this point and has always kept his head up and that is something I am even more proud of,” he said. “I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to watch him play.”
With the departure date on each of the family member’s minds, the tournament season has proved to be a good way to think about something else.
“Playing sports has helped me get through the hard times,” Devin said. “And this tournament season has really helped get my mind off of my dad leaving.”
Like her son, Angie Hooks, has been able to have her mind on something else thanks to the past two months.
“It’s been tough on all of us,” Angie said. “But baseball has really kept me going.”
“I know that Daren is extremely proud of everything Devin has done, and I know he has loved watching every second.”
Besides being able to watch his son, there is another aspect of this particular tournament season and team that is special for Daren.
The players and coaches on the team dedicated the season to the military and the men and women across seas fighting for America.
“There has always been a lot of great support for me and the rest of the military around (Pike County), but no one has ever done something like this, and that really means a lot to me and the rest of the Brundidge unit,” Daren said.
With just one day separating Troy from taking the field and playing for a title, there are sure to be some butterflies in the stomachs of the team members.
But for Devin, those nerves will be subdued with the knowledge of one face in the crowd.
“It’s basically a huge confidence booster for me,” Devin said about seeing his dad in the stands during games.
“It’s not every day that you get to play in a World Series, so I am going to give it everything I got especially for my dad.”