Walnut and South Hills pay tribute to Huskies standout Britney Rodriguez in her first game since losing her brother Tony in a car accident

Iris Nieves posted this moving comment on another thread about the passing of 18-year-old Tony, the brother of South Hills standout Britney Rodriguez, who played her first game since last week’s tragedy against Walnut on Tuesday. I thought it was so powerful I wanted to share it …

Iris Nieves: Today, Britney Rodriguez stepped onto the field for the first time since her brothers passing. She went to school in the morning, wearing her softball varsity jersey, as is the tradition for all varsity team players on game days. She told her mother Mary in the morning that she was returning to school, her first day back since the tragedy, “dressed to play” only because it was what Tony would expect from her. (To continue, click thread)

Above: Britney Rodriguez, 16, holds a portrait of her brother Anthony Ha

A more personal story ran earlier this week: When sophomore Britney Rodriguez, a star softball player at South Hills High School, was struggling in the field, her brother would pull her aside and offer some advice. And when Rodriguez did well, 18-year-old Anthony Ha was the first to cheer for his half-sister, who has already verbally committed to play at UCLA. Ha rarely missed her practices or games. “Anthony couldn’t wait to go watch her,” said their mother, Mary Rodriguez. “He was so proud of her.”

Today South Hills played against Walnut. And although a league game, I must say that to me, today’s game wasn’t about winning or losing… it was about coming together in the face of a tragedy. One would expect the ribbons worn by all the South Hills players… Dodger blue in color, since Tony was an avid Dodger fan, with Tony’s name written on each one. What one wouldn’t expect were the arm bands worn by each and every player and coach on Walnut’s HS team, also with Tony’s name on them. Prior to the game, flowers were discreetly presented to me and asked if I could give to Tony’s mom, along with a sympathy card. And the Walnut parents were amongst the first to clap when Britney approached the plate. What a classy group Walnut parents, coaches and players are! Thank you!!

No one can really know what was going through Britney’s mind during that plate appearance… we only saw the tears streaming down her face, through our own tears. Her deep fly ball to right barely missed going out of the park…we all jumped out of our seats in anticipation. The ball was caught, but Britney’s mission was accomplished … facing her first at-bat without her brother in the stands. We, South Hills and Walnut, all applauded her…we all stood proud WITH her and proud OF her.

One more good thing came out of all of this, at least for me, personally…at the end of the game, an old friend and I made our peace. Because when tragedies such as this occur, one realizes that life is too short to live it with regrets.

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  • dibrnard

    Iris thank you for writing such a beautiful recap of what must have been a very emotional moment for everyone present. Everytime I read this I have tears in my eyes. Your words are so moving and this was a very thoughtful way to let people know how those first moments back on the field took place. May God bless and watch over the Rodriguez Family. R.I.P. Tony

  • Natalie

    What a remarkable story! Britney was always a tough fighter, her Borther would have been really proud. I know God is watching over this wonderful family. She is a trooper and will do well,she is strong and very Brave. Way to represent your brother Britney,and God bless you.

  • IrisNieves

    Funeral Services for Anthony Ha will be as follows:

    Friday, April 9th, 2010
    Viewing from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM, with the Traditional Vigil from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    Oakdale Memorial Park & Mortuary
    1401 South Grand Avenue
    Glendora, CA 91740

    Saturday, April 10th, 2010
    Mass at 1:00 PM
    St. Christopher’s Church
    629 South Glendora Avenue
    West Covina, CA 91790

    Burial following Mass at:
    Oakdale Memorial Park & Mortuary
    1401 South Grand Avenue
    Glendora, CA 91740