Kyley Trausch at Boise Hawks Memorial Stadium (Photo by B. Heindselman)
She wasn’t supposed to be there, on the mound. But there she was, preparing to toss out the ceremonial pitch for the Boise Hawks. The announcer told the crowd, “Kyley, a student at Boise State pursuing a degree in Social Work, is representing all 23 Wyakin Warriors in the program, and is being honored for achieving the highest grade point last semester.”
She had not intended to be a Wyakin Warrior. She had contacted the group to volunteer – to give back to other veterans who had sacrificed for their country. But after a brief interview, it became obvious that Kyley qualified too. She had been injured while serving in the Air Force, and eventually applied.
She was escorted to the mound by Hawks Management, dwarfed by the big men at her side. She positioned herself in front of the mound, staring down the imaginary batter in front of a stadium full of fans.
For the moment, she was all alone.
A few years ago she almost died, and that near death experience changed her. In a recent interview with the Idaho Press Tribune, she said that, “…she just feels lucky to be alive, and other warriors in the program can relate to that feeling.
“’We all kind of have that perspective, whether it was being hit with an IED or having some other near-death experience in some way,’ she said. ‘… I just try to take each day and not take anything for granted.’”
Standing behind the catcher were her teammates – other severely wounded and injured veterans in the Wyakin Warrior program, family members and volunteers – who had been escorted onto the field as well, and in an instant she was among friends.
Flashing a big smile, she wound up and fired.
The young veteran had already cheated death. She had already proven her qualities as a student and as a person. This time, she showed the world that life is what you make of it. On a warm summer night at Hawks Stadium, she put it right over the plate.
Jeff, I missed this the other day, but I’m glad I caught it now. Her story is moving, and your telling of it is superb. Great work, brother.