Hollywood would’ve had a hard time topping what transpired in Slippery Rock last Wednesday afternoon.
Just over 5 weeks after Glee Hart lost her nearly 3-year battle with breast cancer, Slippery Rock High School had designs of unveiling the scoreboard Hart worked tirelessly to erect for nearly 15 months in her honor prior to the team’s game with Jamestown.
What happened next was beyond touching and HARTwarming ....
Rocket junior second baseman — Glee’s daughter — Julia Hart capped an up-and-down day by slamming her first home run — ever — over the fence and not too far from the scoreboard that was dedicated in her mother’s honor just minutes before.
“It was a script that Hallmark couldn’t have written any better,” Slippery Rock softball coach Dan Hindman said. “Oftentimes, those types of things don’t happen. More often than not, they just don’t happen. It was really good to see based on how much Glee was involved and how hard she worked for that scoreboard. It was a very big moment.”
Coincidence or not, the game with Jamestown was postponed three times before the teams were finally able to play on March 17 on Slippery Rock’s hilltop softball field.
“One of the things that struck me is that saying that’s emblazoned on the scoreboard — ‘There’s a reason for everything’,” said Glee’s husband Mike. “I think the saying is actually everything happens for a reason, but Glee always had her own spin on things and that was her own spin. That game with Jamestown was postponed and rescheduled three times. Jamestown’s pitcher (Madison) Hilliard is Julia’s teammate on Roc Elite, so they know each other.”
It took a while for what just happened to set in for Julia.
“As I was running the bases, it just didn’t feel real,” Julia said. “As I got to home plate, everyone was screaming and hitting me on the back. It was an amazing feeling.”
Julia finished the emotional day with 3 hits — and almost another home run — but the Rockets fell to the Muskies.
“Earlier in her first at bat, she hit one to right center and I thought it was going to go,” Mike Hart said. “It went pretty far. One of the fathers came over and said, she almost had a flair for the dramatic didn’t she? Here in her next at bat, she did exactly that ... she hit it out of the park!
“It was awesome. It was exciting to see in the magnitude of the moment, but it was horrible that Glee wasn’t there to see it.”
The afternoon was the culmination of Glee’s hardwork and dedication over a nearly 15-month span to get the $9,000 scoreboard erected for the softball program, but it wasn’t until an anonymous donor stepped in with the final $2,000 did it become a reality.
“Today is a big day for Slippery Rock High School softball,” Glee’s long-time friend Darla (Wallace) Gresgott said during the dedication ceremony. “The team and the program get a new scoreboard and at the same time, the whole softball organization gets to honor the dedication and memory of a parent, alumni and former player — Glee Hart. Glee worked diligently to raise funds and support this organization that meant so much to her. She did what she did best and that was networking to market this team the best she could.
“This scoreboard is here in loving memory of Glee Hart. Glee, your presence we miss, your memories we treasure, loving you always and forgetting you never!”
Once the funding was in place and the materials were purchased, it took workers roughly 3 hours to get it up and operational just beyond the left-field fence. Construction was completed mere minutes prior to Julia and Joey Hart powering up the scoreboard bearing their mom’s name for the first time.
“During school, I could see them building it,” Julia said. “So I was like it’s here and I knew it was going to be very hard, but my family was with me and we got through it. She worked so-o-o-o hard for it and to know it finally got put up for her; it’s just crazy.”
The afternoon was an emotional one for everyone involved, Hindman said.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions,” the veteran softball coach said. “It was an emotional day and everyone knew it would be. As the speakers spoke, we had the (Hart) family in the pitcher’s circle and the teams on each baseline. Up to that point, it was kind of loose and as things happened, it became greatly emotional. Julia and the rest of the girls came off the field crying. How they adjusted in such a short period of time between the dedication and the game speaks volumes about the team and Julia.”
Having coached at various levels, Hindman has probably had his fair share of issues with parents, but Glee Hart was never one of them.
“She’ll be greatly missed,” he said. “She was greatly involved in the community and with both (the girls’ soccer and softball) organizations. Those people are hard to find. There was some pushback from other parents, but she was diligent in doing the right thing.”
In doing so, Glee Hart brought a scoreboard to Slippery Rock High School and her memory will live on long after Julia Hart takes off her SRHS gear for the final time!