Field of Friendship: Baseball team honors fellow student
Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 11, 2015
Poplarville High School senior Dakota Martinez is an avid sports fan. However, due to physical limitations, he is unable to participate in the sports he so loves.
But one of his dreams was realized on Friday, March 27 when members of the Poplarville High School baseball team designated him as an honorary team member.
Dakota was born with cerebral palsy, which according to cerebralpalsy.org, is a neurological disorder that affects body movement, muscle control, coordination and tone; reflexes, posture and balance. The disorder can also impact fine and gross motor skills as well as oral motor functioning.
He also has neuropathy, his mother Kristy Boyd said, which affects Dakota’s nerve endings, she said.
“His muscles get real tight and he has problems with heel core tightening, which makes it difficult for him to walk,” Kristy said. “He takes muscle relaxers three times a day to ease tension. The right side of his brain did not fully develop.”
When Dakota was born, doctors told Kristy that he wouldn’t talk or walk. But, with a lot of hard work, dedication and therapy, Dakota has found his independence, she said.
Dakota’s stepfather Trent Boyd said Dakota never complains about being in pain.
“He is always upbeat, happy and has a great personality. We hit it off the first time we met,” Trent said. “He’s a popular kid here. Everywhere we go, someone comes up and speaks to him.”
For Kristy, one of her main concerns as a mother of a physically disabled child was sending him to school where he could potentially be bullied.
The Boyds are Pearl River County Sheriff’s deputies and have seen firsthand the effects of bullying on young adults.
“But Dakota has grown up in a great environment, where he has not been bullied,” Kristy said. “He has grown up with a great group of kids here.”
Poplarville High School baseball coach Lance Hendrix said Dakota has been his assistant PE coach since Dakota’s middle school years.
“We’ve got good kids on our ball team, who ask about him at every ball game,” Hendrix said. “That Friday, his mom brought him to our game and we presented him with a hat and team jersey. Team members hugged and high-fived him on the field. Afterwards, he sat in the dugout for the duration of the game. Dakota is always in a good mood. He’s inspiring and has a great attitude.”
Every Sunday and Wednesday, Dakota attends church at Crane Creek Baptist Church in Hancock County and aspires to be a minister one day, Trent said.
Dakota said he was surprised to be honored at the ball game.
“It felt good sitting in the dugout,” Dakota said. “I felt like I was part of the team. I even kept an eye on their performance, and as far as I can see, they are a good team.”
Dakota and his parents would like to thank the entire 2015 Poplarville baseball team for their kindness, which includes Dylan Rosenbaun, Kaleb Wheat, Parker Wells, Brandon Bullock, Hunter Smith, Brandon Spiers, Hayden Freeman, Joey Smith, Tyler Breland, Jake Smith, Tyler Welch, Camden Ray, Austin Darden, Austin Carter, Jaden Shaw, Tate Shaw, Kyle Tynes, Clay Garrett, Luke Goodwin, Mason Nodurt, Carsen Miller, Cole Deadeaux, Peyton Graham, Austen Henson, Sye Blossman, Dawsen Brown and Hill Johnson.
“I want to recognize these boys for what they did for Dakota,” Kristy said. “As a mom, it’s overwhelming. I can’t thank them enough. I could see the happiness in his face. It meant so much to him and it’s a memory he will keep. I don’t think these boys really realize how much of an impact they made on us.”