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World Series berth can send dad home
With his dad working in Iraq, North Carolina CF Matt Wilson takes the field with a heavy - yet hopeful - heart.
By BRANDON WRIGHT
Published August 7, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Matt Wilson and his dad, Michael, have a couple things in common.
Matt and Michael are both enduring sweltering heat to help their teams accomplish a goal. Both get their jobs done amid swirling sand and stay covered by reddish brown dirt.
Matt is in St. Petersburg for the Southeastern Regional. Michael is training the Iraqi police force on the other side of the world.
"I'd imagine they're both kind of hot and dirty right now," Vicky Wayne, Matt's mom said after watching her son's North Carolina (Southwest Forsyth) team beat South Carolina 14-9 on Saturday.
In what should be one of the most carefree, memorable times of his life, Matt has a heavy heart.
"I miss him so much," Matt said.
That's because Matt hasn't seen his dad in seven months. During that time Michael, a former special forces soldier in the Army and Winston-Salem police officer, has been working as a training specialist contractor with the Iraqi police.
"We e-mail each other a lot but usually only talk on the phone once a week," Matt said.
There's nothing the 12-year-old centerfielder wants more than to look up into the stands at Arnold S. White Stadium and see his dad sitting there.
"Matt is so proud of his dad and what he's doing over there," Wayne said. "And win or lose here (at the regionals), his dad is very proud of him too."
While Matt is fighting off curveballs in the batter's box in another state, Michael is teaching others how to fight for their lives in a foreign country. And there's only one way to change that.
"We have to win (regionals)," Matt said. "If we do, he's coming home."
Michael promised his son that, no matter what, he would be in Williamsport for the World Series to see Matt play.
Matt's dad hasn't seen his son play a single all-star game this summer. If Southwest Forsyth can navigate its way to Williamsport, the first one should be emotional.
"I know Matt wants to see his dad more than anything," Wayne said. "It would be something if we could win and get there, wouldn't it?"