Brendan's  Bulls

Brendan's Bulls

A Story by Rain

That summer and eight year old boy taught us all what a Champion really is.



I watched as my son grabbed his glove and took off for centerfield,his long spindly legs, that, at 10 yrs old showed a hint of the speed and grace that dads and coaches looked for in an athlete.
Of course I was the coach. I coached both my sons all through their beginning sports endeavors. We were called the " Springdale Bulls." 
Our team was 2 and 0,and we were leading in this game. But, something had caught my eye on the empty field, on the far side of the recreation center. There were dozens of fields,and on this particular day they were all empty,but a couple. I noticed this kid in a motorized wheelchair just circling around the infield.
 I also noticed a woman sitting in one of the dugouts,which I guessed was his mother. I tried to keep my mind on the game,but there was something sad about seeing this lone kid on that empty ballfield.
After the game I noticed the kid was still there; still going around and around and around...alone. I told Sue I would meet everyone at the pool. I just wanted to check something out. As I walked from our field towards the kid, I noticed this woman leave the dugout, and start to walk toward me. There was a determination in her stride, as if she was preparing for somekind of conflict. 
I could feel a volcano coming toward me.
I began smiling, because it was obvious this rather heavy set woman was mis-reading my intention.
"Hi young man." I said.
"What do you want ?" she asked, in a stern mother like voice. All of a sudden I felt I was on the defensive.
"I just wanted to say hi to your son, that is your son,right ?" Her reply was direct and to the point.
 "I suppose there's some rule he can't ride his wheelchair on the field."
"Do you work here ?" She asked
"No,Oh No, I am just a coach and saw him and wanted to come over to say hi." I saw the red in her face start to subside, and the tenseness in her body begin to ease.
"My name is,Ray." I said. "Who is this guy ? I enquired , smiling.
"This is my son, Brendan, He's 8 yrs old and has Cerebral Palsy." I knelt down by Brendan's chair.
"How fast will that thing go?" Brendan broke out in a smile,his head swinging side to side, uncontrollably.
Then I witnessed the most amazing thing. Brendan was talking to me, and I couldn't make out a word, but his mother(Colleen) translated. It was like they had developed this supernatural way of understanding. I was hypnotized by this mother/son communication. I think God chose Colleen to be Brendan's mom. An eight year old boy who could do nothing on his own, can be very stressful. I remember once, as Colleen prepaired dinner for coming guests, Brendan just relentlessly bugged her while he laid on the floor. He wouldn't stop. To my shock, she looked at him and simply said,
" Brendan, if you don't shut up so I can get all this work done, I'm going to pick you up like a dart, and throw you through the livingroom wall.
" Brendan just broke out laughing. That's all he wanted..attention. I've never seen a bond like theirs. Some would call that child abuse. I called it knowing how to handle "your" child.
Colleen thought I worked for the park system and was coming over to chase her son off the field. Thank God that was not the case. Brendan was Colleen's life...  Oh, I pity the person who tried to deny her son a chance at a normal life.
The only analogy I can find to describe what happened next, is hitting fast forward on the channel changer, and not being able find the stop button, or slow it down. Everything happened in fast motion. It was if I was not in control.
"How would you like to be on our team,Brendan?" I blurted out of no-where. His 8 yr old face lit up like Time Square on New Years eve. His head and arms flailed wildly with excitement.
" Now I mean with a uniform and everything." I wasn't even positive we had an extra uniform. I looked at Colleen. She had tears streaming down her cheeks. "Are you serious?" She asked. I looked at Brendan. "You'll have to obey the rules like everyone else." Again his body jumped with excitement.
"Look", I told him. You won't be able to bat, or play the way our other boys do, but you can be out on the field during warm ups."
With that, I got Colleen's number. It turned out they only lived a few blocks away.
Colleen walked over to me and grabbed my hand. "He's NEVER been around normal boys his age." "Can you keep him safe?" she asked. This was something I didn't even consider. He was defenseless. A line drive,a foul ball, a misthrow, any of these could hurt him seriously.
I told her I would call her. I went directly into the offices of the Springdale athletic department. I talked to Jim. He was the last word in any sports activity.
I explained what I wanted to do. Jim bulked. "Ray,you're putting a defenseless kid into a potential dangerous scenario." The words that came from my mouth flowed as if someone had scripted it.
"Jim,This will give my team a chance to appreciate how lucky they are, and Brendan a chance to belong to a regular team. 
 "I will assign at least three kids to watch him at all times." "Jim, this kid has "NEVER" had a chance to be a part of any sports." He's never been treated like a normal kid."
"Go see if you have a spare uniform." He said.
 After some searching around, I found one.
 "YES!!" I shouted.
The next day I called Colleen and told her I had a uniform for Brendan, and could I bring it over. I heard her shout out to Brendan.
"Ray's got your uniform. He wants to bring it over."
I can't find the words to explain the kind of happiness I witnessed as I watched Colleen struggle to put it on him.
Suddenly,there he was,Number 10, Brendan Mcphillips.
My boys were 9 and 10 yr old kids. They had never seen anyone liked Brendan. There was alot of curiousity, and alot of not knowing what to say. Brendan operated is chair with is chin. The first thing I did was gather them all around Brendan, who was all smiles. "Brendan,show them how fast your chair will go." With that,he was off to the outfield. "How many of you can run faster than Brendan's chair?" All hands went up.
"Brendan, come back here." We were all in a circle now. They were starting to get over this odd kid who rode around in a chair.
"Joey, Ryan, Jose, put your hands behind your back and stand side by side." I instructed them. I reached in the ballbag and grabbed three baseballs. Gently, I lofted a ball toward Joe's chest. Instinctually, he brought his hands around and batted it down. I did the same thing with Ryan and Jose.
"Boys,if I threw a ball to Brendan he wouldn't be able to bat it away."
Brendan is your teammate. I will assign three of you throughout the game to protect him, "Understand ?" They all agreed. "I'm serious,boys, Brendan depends on you."
 "Brendan, go out to centerfield with Joe." " Let's go boys."
During practice I saw how the boys got used to having him there. I think they also understood how hard it had to be for him to not run and throw, and play the way they did. Our team's name was "The Springdale Bulls" and we were 3 wins and no losses. At the end of practice I gathered them all around.
"Boys,You know what I think would be really cool ?" "Brendan will never be able to actually play,but we could make him feel like a real part of this team."
"Whadda ya say we change our name to "Brendan's Bulls ?" There was a loud cheer, and it was decided from then on, we were "Brendan's Bulls."
Colleen and Sue made a huge banner that we always hung from the dugout fence. We won our next 6 games. One more game and we had an undefeated season. I admit there was some close calls, but mostly the boys took their job of protecting Brendan seriously. We would hang the ball bag from Brendans chair. Boys would lay their bats on his lap, anything to make him feel he belonged.
One day a news station van appeared in the parking lot. It was there to film a new addition the rec had built. But,casually the news reporter wandered over to where we were practicing. He saw Brendan and it piqued his interest. He also called his crew over. After Colleen explained the series of events which led up to Brendan's being on the team, the reporter asked  "Would you mind if we did a segment on your team ?
"Now ? I asked. "Yes,we'd like to interview some of the boys, the mother, and the coach."
Colleen tried to focus on me, and  I tried to focus on what the boys did. The boys were so excited about being on TV. It was wild. The climax of the segment was Brendan being at homeplate, someone hit the ball for him, and he was off!!! He had his chair cranked up and he was going for an inside the park home run. He scared us all a couple times when his chair hit the bag and went up on 2 wheels. The boys were laughing and acting foolishly dramatic.
But, they knew what the camera wanted. Brendan rounded 3rd, headed for home. The boys muffed the ball perfectly until Brendan neared homeplate. The boys were screaming for him, Brendan's face filled with pure happiness. Of course, Brendan's wheel touched homeplate, as Ryan awkwardly tried to reach out and tag him. The news reporter, who was really caught up in the staged insanity, shouted "SAFE"!!!
Some summers are precious for many reasons. Brendan's Bulls won their last game. We went undefeated. We were Champions, but not because we didn't lose a game. We were Champions because a lonely eight year old boy, who would never run, throw, or play, was accepted as normal, for the first time in his life. 
He was number 10 sitting in that chair, but he was number ONE that summer.

© 2008 Rain

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Featured Review

This nearly brought me to tears. You are such a damn good example of what a human being should be like. I am once again reminded of how grateful I am to have you as a friend. This story was heart warming and so moving. I moved around alot as a kid and I always had to go through that stage of being the new kid no one wanted to talk to. So i can relate on a very small level to how this made Brendan feel to be accept like this. You did a great thing by doing that Ray and I am sure it effected him forever after that, just to know there are people out there like you that are willing to be there for them.

Loved This!!!!!

Posted 15 Years Ago

4 of 4 people found this review constructive.


Very intriguing read. I really enjoyed it.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ray, I just had to come and find this write after you telling me it was one of your favorites. If only my Hersh would have had a Ray. If only my Hersh would have had a mother like Brendon's!.

Hersh spent his childhood, after a five year stay in a children's hospital for his surgeries and such, standing litterealy behind his bedroom door, with his face to the wall. No such thing in those days of braces that did not weigh a ton, and he wore them from his shoulders down at that point. The vision of this small five year old, standing for hours behind his bedroom door, was laced with the wonderful story I read here this morning in my thoughts. It took him years to tell me his story and I am sure there is much of it to this day that I do not know. Abuse of any kind, became at the point of listening to my husband unfold his story, a real soapbox issue for me. People that hear Hersh's story will tell me that Polio was considered back then a curse to a family. NO EXCUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here you have showed that even children not granted the ability of others, with love, can find a way to smile and be truly happy. This is a perfect time of year for you to put this up as a featured write and I really wish that you would.

This story did not ALMOST bring me to tears, but brought me to feeling those salty little drops run down my cheeks. Love this is an understatement for me. Is there a 100 +++++++ on our rating scale cause my friend for this one, you sure would have it from me?

Hugs and Love,

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What an awesome story. It brought me to tears. If more people were accepting of differences in people then this world could be halfway decent. You found a way to teach the children on your team a lesson and to give Brendan a chance at being "normal". It's people like you who make this world a better place.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

That kicked a*s. All the way through. With my step father in a chair, I don't notice the wheels, nor the frustration. I see people in hard circumstances. But they still bleed, laugh, cry, and love.

This is heartwarming, and why Im proud of you.

Posted 14 Years Ago

Another dazzling tale - it does sound like it really meant a lot to that poor kid, and as it slowly became a win situation for all involved my heart filled with warmth.
Thank you for sharing this delightful piece with us.

Posted 14 Years Ago

i love your deep human side

Posted 14 Years Ago

You are a wonderful writer Rain, and this story just clenched it for me. You have made me cry, not over sadness but because of how you brought out the happiness in giving. The coach gave this young man a chance at something, he otherwise would never have had. This is going in my library for sure.

Posted 15 Years Ago

that's beautiful. i have to agree with robert, i was nearly brought to tears. such a lovely story of strength and compassion and opening up the heart when it constricts.

"it peaked his interest" - that should be 'piqued'. yeah, i'm annoying.

but anyway, this is a fantastic story. written well, written smoothly, and at a fast clip with a great message.

overall, a fantastic piece :) what a wonderful time in your life, as well as in brendan's

Posted 15 Years Ago

That was so touching and heartwarming. What every mother wants for her son- acceptance. Thank you for sharing this truly wonderful story.

Posted 15 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Beautiful story Rain. As a Mom, I related to wanting to make sure my boys were as inclusive to everyone as this team was to Brendan. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story and bringing up long gone memories of teaching young boys of the importance of acceptance.

Posted 15 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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37 Reviews
Shelved in 8 Libraries
Added on February 8, 2008
Last Updated on December 12, 2008



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