By Elizabeth Cooke, Staff Writer
The sun shined down on the freshly-cut grass, fans filled the stands and tension hung in the air. Union’s softball team faced off against Bethel University March 26.
Bubba Wade, 28, of Memphis, sat behind home plate with a huge smile on his face. This was the first game this season he was able see the Lady Bulldogs play live. He was beaming with excitement because softball ranks among his favorite sports.
In between the games he got to see the catcher, who came up and gave him a Union bag that he now keeps on the back of his wheelchair.
Wade’s spina bifida confines him to a wheelchair, but he does not let that stop him from enjoying his favorite sports. Even though he is not able to drive to watch his cousin, Kohnley Wade, freshman nursing major, play outfielder, he watches every home game through Union’s live feed on his laptop.
Wade also watches the Lady Bulldogs play away games on DAKSTATS, an online game tracker. Wade said keeping up with the games is a priority. It is his first year listening to the season, though it will definitely not be his last.
“My favorite place to watch it is in my room,” Wade said.
Wade lives with his grandparents and parents, who help take care of him.
He usually eats lunch or a snack and always drinks a Pepsi while watching the games.
Wade was not even supposed to live. His birth defect, in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth, should have been terminal.
“He had an open spine. The nurse that was up there with him was a friend of mine, and she said, ‘Do what the doctor tells you,’” said Fred Heinz, Wade’s grandfather. “If there was any other doctor on the floor they would have just put him in the corner.”
Wade said his favorite sport to watch is baseball, and his favorite team is the Chicago Cubs.
After one of his surgeries, he had to lie on his stomach for months.
“We had cable TV, and all he could do was watch,” Heinz said. “I told him, ‘Bub, you can either watch the soap operas or you can watch the Chicago Cubs,’ and he became a Cubs fan.”
Although baseball is America’s Pastime, Wade says he still loves softball. It is fast-paced, unlike baseball, which often is much slower, and the broadcast does not have commercial interruptions.
He can name all of the Union softball players and knows they have a 28-7 record.
He got to meet all three of his favorite players: Keaton Kirk, junior athletic training major; Katie Beth Fesmire, sophomore nursing major; and Kohnley Wade, along with the rest of the team.
“It’s safe to say that I’m their biggest fan,” Bubba Wade said.