HomeTabernacle NewsLocal volunteer honored with scholarship

Local volunteer honored with scholarship

Playing softball was a way of life for now-volunteer coach Sage Stuart. She began playing at age 6 and threw her first no-hitter by age nine. At 13 years old, Stuart began suffering severe shoulder pain, and, by the age of 14, Stuart was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association’s website. Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress, the website states.

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The chronic pain, in addition to her serious shoulder injury prevented her from returning to the sport she loves.

“When I was 15, I found out I could no longer play any of the sports I wanted because my shoulder was beyond messed up from playing,” Stuart said.

She began to coach at age 15 with the Tabernacle Athletic Association, donating her time to various teams determined to stay involved with a sport she loves.

“When I was 16, I had shoulder surgery which ended any serious level of sports for me. But even though I couldn’t play anymore, I couldn’t totally give up softball. So I started coaching. My first team as a coach was during my freshman year of high school. I was 15 years old, and Dan and Laurie Sloan were the first people I’d ever coached with,” Stuart said.

As high school came to a close, Stuart entered various scholarship contests in an effort to assist in paying for college, including the one ran by the TAA.

By the end of her senior year, Stuart had coached four teams and logged close to 300 hours of community service with the TAA.

“I found out on Mother’s Day that I had won the scholarship, which was awesome. I attended the Seneca awards ceremony in May, where I was presented with my scholarship award,” Stuart said. “Winning the scholarship meant a lot to me because of all the time I’ve spent in TAA. Although I wanted to win other scholarships, I took the most pride in writing my TAA scholarship essay and ultimately winning the scholarship.”

“I wanted to teach them what I had taken away from softball morally,” Stuart said in her award-winning essay. “Two of the most important qualities to me are dedication and sportsmanship. Especially as we grew older, my softball friends and I were incredibly dedicated to our team, our coaches, and our sport. We all put in the effort at practices and clinics, we respected our coaches and appreciated what they had to teach us, and we dedicated the majority of our time to softball.”

In addition to softball, Stuart is active in riding horses, a sport she has participated in since age 6. Riding was incorporated to her recovery from shoulder surgery, through physical therapy.

Stuart was awarded $1,250 from the TAA for her upcoming year at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, located in Galloway. Stuart plans on majoring in hospitality and Spanish and continuing to coach after the school year has ended.

“My riding trainer is an incredible role model and coach and has even incorporated riding horses as physical therapy for me,” Stuart said.

She plans to continue to ride in college and join Stockton’s equestrian club.

While riding will be the focus in college, Stuart doesn’t foresee ending her coaching career with the TAA, and expects to be back for another summer.

“Stockton ends in May. It gives me plenty of time to coach. It gives me plenty of time to work with the players,” Stuart said.

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