The first time I ever heard of Wade Mitchell, he was hitting home runs as a Lebanon Dixie Youth All-Star.
His coach would call in the score and Wade had hit another one over the fence.
Within a few years he was at Friendship Christian as a linebacker. He was also the Commanders’ punter. As a freshman, he was wheeled away from Pirtle Field with a broken leg suffered while punting against Gordonsville.
His punting leg helped break Gordonsville’s heart three years later when he dropped a ball inside the Tiger 5-yard line with undefeated Friendship trailing by two scores early in the fourth quarter of a second-round playoff game.
Friendship’s defense, with Mitchell serving as its anchor at middle linebacker [where he would earn Mr. Football Lineman finalist honors], held the Tigers and forced a punt. The Commander offense took advantage of the short field for one touchdown before scoring the game-winner with less than 20 seconds left in one of the most heart-stopping games witnessed through the years.
Mitchell and the Commanders fell short of perfection in the BlueCross Bowl, losing to Jackson Christian. But with several of the football players in baseball, they got their revenge months later by beating JCS in that sport’s state championship.
In his final organized at bat, Mitchell blasted a home run halfway up the back of the grandstand of Floyd Stadium, the site of the Commanders’ football loss five months earlier.
While Mitchell and his teammates were celebrating the school’s first TSSAA championship, a few miles away, Friendship’s softball team was being eliminated from the state tournament.
His softball counterpart [he was a catcher] was Camille Cross. Her father, Corky, starred for Lebanon High in the mid-1970s and now spent some of his free moments as a TSSAA-registered football official. Two of her big sisters, Courtney and Candace, had earlier starred in softball, cross country and basketball for the Lady Commanders. Another big sis, Cara, was a cheerleader.
Camille, listed that year as a catcher/first baseman, batted leadoff for the softball team as a center fielder and first sacker. But I recall her catching later and she was a good one. I don’t recall her hitting many home runs, if any, but she was a good hitter and team leader.
In the fall, Camille took up soccer. Following her senior season in that sport, football coach John McNeal asked her to join the team as a kicker.
Singing Taylor Swift’s hit “Love Story” to inspire her [I’m not making this up], she kicked a field goal and a few extra points in Friendship’s final few games of the 2008 season. She is the only female to suit up and score for FCS football.
Fast forward to last Saturday night to one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed, Wade and Camille became one of the few married couples who both played high school football. Timing hadn’t allowed them to be teammates, but now they’ll be a team for the remainder of time.
Looking back, they were destined for each other – and I’m not talking about the usual things people look for in a mate. Both played catcher and both excelled in the kicking game. They could also swing the bat.
More than a decade after Wade was whacking balls over the fences at Dixie Youth games, he hit another one out of the park – without using a bat or ball. And after singing “Love Story”, she’s written her own.
May they spend the rest of their lives circling the bases – together.