I’ll save you the play-by-play and details on this one; they don’t matter.

I could tell you how many strikeouts the pitchers had, who had a big day at the plate and who made the great plays in the field. I won’t even bother telling you what the Winslow and Lawrence baseball teams’ records were and what the result of this game means for them going forward.

Sure, there’s a reason sports writers take painstaking care in journaling that information, but this day wasn’t about the action one would detail to you after nearly any other game. No, this day was about one of the players on the field and what this day meant to him — it was about Will Parent.

He’s a Winslow junior who hasn’t been able to think about baseball nearly as much as he would have liked to this spring. In mid-March, his mother, Valerie, was diagnosed with an unidentified form of cancer that would quickly worsen. She died April 24 at the age of 66.

Parent would take a brief absence from the team during that span, but upon his return, he’d find solace in his teammates and coaches on the ball diamond. That’s how this game — the “lavender game,” as head coaches Beth LaFountain of Winslow and Rusty Mercier of Lawrence both called it — came to be.

“We wanted to find a way to let him know that we support him and were all going to come together for him,” LaFountain said. “I work closely with Coach Mercier, and I let him know that we wanted to find a game toward the end of the season to honor Will’s mom. He said, ‘Whatever you need, you just let us know.’”


Coincidently, the Black Raiders and Bulldogs had a late-season game on the schedule. That game came Thursday afternoon in Winslow, and from the pregame and postgame festivities to the apparel worn by the players, Will and Valerie Parent were the focuses at Jack Nivison Field.

You don’t have to spend much time in Winslow to know that this town is defined by black and orange. The Black Raiders and their colors are as synonymous with Winslow as skiing is to Sugarloaf, as Acadia National Park is to Bar Harbor or as the L.L. Bean boot is to Freeport. You can see it all throughout the Winslow High School campus, where black and orange seem to dominate the landscape.

On the field, though, you had to squint your hardest to see any signs of those colors on  Thursday. Winslow’s uniforms, which usually feature bright-orange jerseys, were replaced by lavender uniforms to honor cancer awareness. Lawrence also sported the color, wearing lavender socks in lieu of their usual blue. Both teams wore purple ribbons on their batting helmets.

Jen Kelly, a friend of Valerie Parent, spoke in her memory prior to the game. A Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, Kelly spoke of the late Parent as a loving mother who was very involved in her children’s life. Jared Goldsmith, also a lymphoma survivor, as well as a language arts teacher at Winslow, then sang the national anthem.

“When I got my Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis five years ago, this community came out in droves to support me,” Kelly said. “They did everything they could to help my family get through it. So, for me, it’s about paying it forward. This community really comes together when someone needs it.”

Then, there was what Will Parent did on the field. Usually a situational player, he instead played the full game in right field, recording a pair of outs as he snagged a couple of fly balls. Yet that wouldn’t come close to what happened in the sixth inning, when he reached on an infield single to become the game’s final baserunner just as a rainbow appeared in the central Maine sky. The moment, he said, felt as if she were watching him from above.


Following the game, Winslow players and members of the Parent family met in the outfield grass for a group photo. As they did so, the Lawrence players and coaches were standing nearby, seemingly wanting to get in on the action for one grand picture featuring both teams.

Winslow’s Will Parent (2) is embraced by teammates after honoring his late mother before a baseball game against Lawrence on Thursday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Come on over, boys!” one Winslow player yelled. It was a kind of enthusiasm you might not expect to see a player whose team had just lost 10-0 extend toward the winning team. These athletes, after all, are competitors, and the moments right after a defeat are usually when it stings the most.

This day, though, wasn’t about the bitterness of a result; it was about something that can’t be confined to a baseball field. Both teams were out to embrace something bigger and show support for someone who needed it. Yes, they were invested in the action on the field, but it’s not what anyone at Nivison Field took away from this game.

No, what the players, coaches and fans in attendance Thursday afternoon took away is a lesson that sports brings us together through moments of unity more than it divides us through town lines, uniform colors and columns on the scoreboard. Theyre moments that, to people like Will Parent, remain even as the wins, losses and box scores are forgotten.

“To have (Lawrence) do what they did, that shows community pride,” Parent said. “Even if we’re rivals on the field, we’re still one community. … It’s definitely a spark of the future I’m going to have without my mom, but to see (the support for us), it definitely helps.”

Comments are no longer available on this story