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October 10, 2012

Direct Kick: Always be aware of your surroundings

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — You know the old saying, “keep your eye on the ball?” While it sounds like it should be inclusive to sports, it’s really a broad statement about remaining alert to events occurring around you.

It’s a good lesson to learn. Too bad I didn’t.

While standing on the sidelines of last week’s North Laurel-South Laurel boys’ soccer match, taking photos like I always do, I was looking down at my camera to see what photos I had already taken. That’s the nice things about digital cameras. Unlike the days of film, with digital you can see if you have any good shots, while with film, you had to wait until it was processed to see if you had anything.

So there I was with my head down, scanning the photos when all of a sudden, wham! Yes, a soccer ball smacked me right in the left side of my head.

I was standing beside Debbie Cloud Prewitt, who was also shooting photos, and she asked me if I was all right. It took me a second to realize what had happened, but once I did, I told her I was fine. The ball was kicked pretty hard, and I think I might have only been 10 or 15 feet away from the players. Needless to say, a ringing started in my ears (more than usual since I have tinnitus) and I reached up to feel behind my left ear to see if the force of the ball had driven the back of my earring into my head, which thankfully, it did not. Later on I did feel a little light headed, but that passed quickly. That could have been because I hadn’t eaten since lunch.

This isn’t the first time this year that I’ve been hit with a ball. Let’s travel back in time to early June, when South Laurel and Middlesboro were getting ready to play in the baseball regional tournament at South.

I was standing at the edge of the Cardinal dugout talking to Kyle Mink and Rod Sears while Middlesboro was taking infield. Now usually I stand inside the dugout during this time because I don’t want to get hit by any ball that gets past the firstbaseman, which happens a lot. But for some reason I wasn’t this time, and I would come to regret that.

Thomas Epperson, Middlesboro’s ace pitcher, was playing short that day. Now the guy has a cannon for an arm, to say the least. I didn’t see him field the ball or throw it to first. What I did feel was the ball hitting me. Hard.

Where did it hit me, you might ask? Well, right where the left leg meets the torso. An inch to the left and it would have destroyed my cell phone, which was in my pants pocket. An inch to the right, and well, I don’t want to think about that.

The force of the ball made me drop my drink, but that was all. I didn’t say ouch, I didn’t drop to my knees, I didn’t do anything. Mink asked me if I was all right, and I said I was. He and Sears didn’t believe me. But really I was fine. What upset me more than anything was no Middlesboro player apologized for the incident or asked if I was all right.

I felt around to see if there was any warm sensation of blood, and thankfully, there wasn’t. When I got home I checked myself and the only thing I could see was a small bruise starting to develop. By morning, it had turned dark and grew to the size of a baseball. But no other damage.

Thankfully the soccer ball didn’t leave a bruise on the side of my face. Thankfully the baseball didn’t hit me in my face.

I’ve had close calls before in the past, but I’ve usually been able to avoid them or deflect them enough so they wouldn’t make a direct hit. But those balls I saw coming.

Then Friday night at Lincoln County I was almost hit in the head by a football before the game started. I can’t wait to see what basketball season holds for me.

The next time you see me I might be dressed from head to toe in body armor. I wonder if I could get hazardous duty pay?

sports@sentinel-echo.com

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