Inspiration on the Diamond

Meet TSSAA Umpire Beth Chlopek, who is taking every bit of Babe Ruth’s words to heart. In 2015, Beth knew something was not right with her health, but she was taking care of her husband, who was experiencing health problems of his own. It wasn’t until 2017 that she was officially diagnosed with ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

Beth and her husband Wade moved to Franklin last year from the Bay area in California where she has been umpiring softball for 25 years. Beth is also a local TSSAA volleyball referee. They moved to Tennessee to be closer to their oldest daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons. 

I first met Beth when she umpired one of our Mill Creek Middle School softball games. We went to the plate for the pregame meeting, and she had pre-recorded messages with her talk-to-text app that Siri read. Everything from making sure we knew her name and that she had ALS to whether all our girls were properly equipped to compete was spoken from her phone to us. Beth also communicated with us through writing on a tablet and showing us. 

You know the batter’s count better when Beth is umpiring versus anyone else because she shows number of balls and strikes on her hand every single pitch. 

It was after meeting her at that game that we coaches all talked about how inspiring Beth was. She was incredible. To be facing what she is but still continuing to do the things she does at a high level is such an encouragement. The amazing example she is to these athletes! 

We decided we needed to recognize her courage. We reached out to Eddie Litton, head of all TSSAA umpires for the middle TN area, and let him know what a great umpire Beth is and how inspiring she was to us. We wanted to share her story. On April 25th, when she was umpiring for us again, we presented Beth the MCMS Maverick Courage Award. 

Her bravery and courage to keep fighting during adversity is truly something to celebrate and honor! It was an event I won’t soon forget, as both teams lined up before the game, and we all took a moment to honor Beth. 

I asked Beth why she continues to want to be an umpire. She wrote, “I feel kids need sports and I feel God still wants me here to be a demonstration of His love for them.” I could not agree with her more. 

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