NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Georgia high school baseball player is being praised for an amazing display of sportsmanship during a game last month.
Jo Vaal Hollingshed is a senior at Henry County High School and on March 29, his team took on the Eastside High School Eagles out of Newton County.
It was an emotional game at home for Eastside because just one week before, the father of pitcher Michael Hipps Jr. suffered a medical emergency during a home game and passed away as a result. It was the first game back for Hipps since his dad’s death.
The Eagles released balloons in honor of the late Mr. Hipps before the game started. Then, the game got underway and Hollingshed was first at-bat.
Just before Hipps threw the first pitch of the game, Hollingshed stepped away from the plate, put his bat down on the ground and made his way toward the pitcher’s mound.
“With compassion and a selfless spirit, the visiting team’s player reached out to hug his opponent, shook his hand, and offered his condolences for the loss of his father. The two returned to their respective positions and the game commenced,” Henry County Schools said in a news release.
Fans attending the game were left in awe over the simple, yet grand, gesture and show of sportsmanship.
Hipps' Eagles ended up defeating Hollingshed's Warhawks.
Following the game, Newton County Schools' Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Eastside High principal Jeff Cher attended the Henry County Schools' Board of Education meeting on Monday to present Hollingshed with a Coin of Distinction award. He's only the second person in the history of the honor to not be part of the Newton County School System.
At the meeting, Fuhrey thanked the young man for his extraordinary display of character and compassion for a member of a competing team.
“In today’s day and age, we all could use a lot more kindness and a lot more thoughtfulness,” Fuhrey said. “While he might think his actions were simple, they meant a great deal to our Newton County family.”