Vaught's Views: Teammates and friends rally to support Barsotti

September 28, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

If you have ever been around Patrick Barsotti, you know he's a bundle of energy. So when the 15-year-old Boyle County sophomore lost his appetite and energy, one had to wonder if something was wrong.

Of course, considering the effort he puts into soccer and the fact that he's also a backup placekicker on the Boyle football team this year, it was easy to assume that he probably had just overdone it and was tired.

Still, the normally energetic Barsotti was dragging enough that his parents decided to take him to the doctor Friday. What they all learned was enough to make us all appreciate how precious every day should be.

Barsotti, the same kid with the infectious smile and non-stop energy, was diagnosed with leukemia in a matter of hours. He went from worrying about soccer, football, academics and an active social life to a room in the A.B. Chandler Medical Center in Lexington in a matter of hours.


Until June, I really didn't know Barsotti. However, he was one of the youth workers at the Great American Brass Band Festival and we spent a lot of hours together in an eight-day period. That's when I learned not only was he going to be a starter on Boyle's soccer team this year, but that he also was going to join the football team in hopes of earning a spot as a kicker in the years ahead. Plus, despite his small build, he's a catcher on the baseball team and figured to challenge for a starting spot this spring because of his quickness and competitiveness.

I know he has no fear. I realized that when I watched him climb across the top of our Brass Band Festival stage and prayed he wouldn't fall while under my supervision.

It didn't surprise me that news of his diagnosis spread so quickly. He played soccer on Thursday night, went to the doctor on Friday morning and was in Lexington that afternoon.

His best friend wore his jersey

When the Rebels played soccer Saturday, his best friend, Alex Wagner, wore Barsotti's No. 20 jersey. An announcement before the game asked players and fans to keep Barsotti in their prayers.

Eric Curtis scored Boyle's first goal and immediately pointed to Barsotti's jersey as a tribute to his teammate.

The game ended in a tie and went to a shootout. Wagner had the last kick for Boyle with the score tied and made his shot. Boyle goalkeeper Michael Hopper stopped Villa Madonna's final shot to give the Rebels the win and the players had Wagner take off Barsotti's jersey, run to the home fans and show off the jersey as another tribute to their teammate.

After the game, several friends had a large poster for Barsotti's teammates and others to sign. That poster now hangs in his hospital room, along with a card from the Danville soccer team that was delivered Saturday. Both undoubtedly will stay there in the weeks ahead as Barsotti undergoes treatment.

If you would like to send him a get-well card, the address is Room HA 490, Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., 40536-0293.

Don't be surprised, too, if his teammates and friends do other things to show their support for him in the weeks ahead.

Friends says Barsotti remains his usual fun-loving self and is determined to return to a normal life as soon as possible. I would have expected nothing less from him even though most of us would be tempted to wonder "why me" and fear the worst.

But not Barsotti. He's not that way. The same competitive drive that kept him playing soccer even when he wasn't feeling well will help him combat this illness.

Hopefully he'll be back on the baseball diamond this spring listening to encouraging words from coach Dave Camic and showing that size doesn't matter when it comes to having the heart to play.

If not, he certainly will be at the Brass Band Festival next June because after working with him last summer, there's no way I'll be without him at the next festival.

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