By Steve Williams
I asked Farragut High softball coach Nick Green a couple of weeks ago to comment on how much of an inspiration Avery Flatford had been to him and his team.
For those of you who don’t know about Avery, she is the Lady Admirals’ junior pitcher who has been playing softball with cystic fibrosis since her little league days in the CBFO organization and this past season was a big part in Farragut capturing its first state title since 1982.
Before Coach Green got to the point on what Flatford had meant to the team, he shed light on something else about Avery that was news to me and probably most folks outside the Farragut softball family.
Avery has a nickname.
“Avery or Sid as we call her, named from the character Sid the Sloth from Ice Age due to their similar funny, goofy and caring character and the fact that she moves as fast as a sloth,” revealed Coach Green.
I feel pretty sure Avery is affectionately called Sid or Coach Green wouldn’t have mentioned it.
Nick told us something else interesting about uh, er Sid, too.
“She is very talented as you know as a pitcher in softball but also in art: painting, sculpture, and making gingerbread houses,” he pointed out.
How about that? There is much more to Avery than just striking out opposing batters!
For the record, Farragut’s female Student-Athlete of the Year won 22 games in the circle this season and had a 1.34 ERA. She struck out 279 batters in 141 innings, nearly two K’s per inning.
Another Avery on the team, who also was a junior standout and has a nickname, recently complimented Flatford on her season and receiving the FHS award.
“I am very proud of her, she worked so hard all year to be her best and she did it,” said “Ace” Strickland. “She deserves it and I am so happy for her.”
Getting back to Coach Green and his feelings on Flatford’s medical condition, he said: “Even though I know some of the things Avery has to do everyday just to get ready for the day, such as breathing treatments, vibrating chest vest, enzymes with meals, and an enormous amount of calories and foods with high sodium content (Lay’s potato chips and pickle juice being the go-to items), I cannot grasp having to do all those things every day.”
Green also has come to the conclusion that “Avery is the definition of perseverance and determination, after watching her improve and develop as a softball player from a scrawny 6th grader, through middle school, and now coming into her senior year.”
He also said Avery and most of her teammates have played together from CBFO (little league age) and “they have seen her through the good times and bad, her struggles and victories.”
Flatford has already committed to Tennessee Tech and could become the first-ever pitcher to compete on the college level with cystic fibrosis.
Her journey and story already is well known and I believe others who have CF have to be motivated by Avery’s daily battle to maintain her health and do great things in athletics.
In addition to pitching well and winning games, that too is something Avery has been hoping to accomplish along the way.