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My name is Jamie Pote, and welcome to my new website and blog. If you don't know me already, I have been the Sports Editor of the Wilmington and Tewksbury Town Crier newspaper since 1994. I'll be using this site to share my most recent sports stories, as well as play by play updates from games in Wilmington and Tewksbury. Please feel free to take a look around, and enjoy!

When it comes to life, DiCredico is all heart

SALEM – Back in the winter of 2008, Lauren DiCredico was named the Town Crier’s Female Athlete of the Year and she was just a junior. About 18 months later, during senior week, her life took a big downfall as her father Bob unexpectedly passed away.
The ups and downs continued for DiCredico, who then moved on to Salem State College to play both field hockey and softball, excelling in the latter including being named MASAC Rookie of the Year as well as making it to the MASCAC All-Conference and All-Academic team for the first of three times. But then in August of 2012, she started to become ill, first with mono which then led into a serious heart condition, which not only kept her out of sports for well over a year.
Now the 21-year-old senior psychology/sports science major will be graduating from Salem State next month and will be leaving for Colorado in August as she will attend Grad School at the University of Denver. But before she puts on the cap and eventually boards the plane, she has made an incredible comeback in the sports and will be closing out her remarkable career in the coming weeks. She has helped guide a very young Lady Vikings team back into the MASCAC playoffs, all the while forging back
from a condition known as post-viral cardiomyopathy, where not enough blood was pumping from her left ventricle into her heart.
DiCredico knows that she has gone through great ordeals already in her young life, but realizes how much stronger she is because of it all.
“Sometimes I think it has made me who I am because I have been through so many big things already in my life,” she said. “My Dad was my biggest supporter when it came to school. He is the reason why I love school as much as I do. When I was younger he went back to school and I just have realized that the college years are so important. I think all of this has forced me to grow up faster than I normally would have and has helped me keep a good head on my shoulders. It’s definitely been emotional.”
Starting Out
DiCredico is the youngest of three sisters with Kim and Brittany and has always been involved in sports. In high school she was a pitcher and outfielder for the softball team, while she also was a standout field hockey player and also dabbled in various events for the spring track team during her early years. She’s always been a dynamite kid, who laughs, who is upbeat and who takes sports, schoolwork and life seriously. She has always been a diligent worker in both and always wants to succeed in both. She did that early on at Salem. She immediately made an impact on both the field hockey and softball teams. But the week before the field hockey season was to start in 2012, all of that changed.
“During the pre-season, a week before the season was starting, I was diagnosed with mono,” she said. “I had trained very hard but we all knew that something was wrong, including Jess (Mirisola, the head coach). I was told to rest for three weeks and not to have any contact sports. But being Lauren DiCredico, I rested for a week and was back at it.”
Coming back too soon ended up being the biggest reason for her condition.
“It was just a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “I ended up playing through the field hockey playoffs and I was training for softball but I still felt weak. I knew there was something wrong still.”
So she went back to her doctor who said it was still mono. Then she decided to get a second opinion, and that’s when she was told that she had this heart condition.
“I’ll never forget the day was January 25, 2013 when they told me about the condition,” she said. “It was two weeks before softball was going to start. I had to take the entire season off and go into rehab. It was me and a bunch of 80-year-old men who were recovering from heart attacks. I could only walk on the treadmill and they would watch me every step of the way. It was an emotional thing for sure. I couldn’t do anything for months.”
Her entire life came to a screeching halt. She could no longer compete on the field hockey field, on the softball diamond nor could she work out, go for a jog or even do basic fun non-athletic things with her friends.
“There were a lot of times when I would come back from class and go home and fall right to sleep,” she said. “Then I would wake up and just do homework. I didn’t do much and I couldn’t do much at all. I had no social life. It consisted of me sitting on the couch doing homework all of the time. It was a big struggle for me to stay awake. It was a huge struggle for me to go up a flight of stairs and when you are a 20-year-old athlete in college, that shouldn’t be happening. I was in denial at first and then I think I realized the situation and it really scared me. I knew that I had to be very careful and I just kept telling myself that my health was far more important than sports or anything else in my life. It scared me and it certainly scared my family.”
The Road to Recovery
Besides resting, doing homework and being relegated to the couch, DiCredico also tried to learn as much as she could about her condition, about sports science. She took up an internship in sports psychology with the Lowell Spinners Baseball program and contributed to the academic research conducted by professor Chris Schoen. Their research, according to the Boston Globe, “looked at how to incorporate a sports psychology curriculum into the athletic training program at Salem State. The study was accepted at a Massachusetts undergraduate research conference and at the European College of Sports Science in Barcelona.”
“(DiCredico) wanted to help out and got right on board,” said Schoen in an article in the Globe. “She was very proactive and became an equal contributor in the whole process. Lauren was becoming a researcher in the standard format that we would want to train our students in for preparation in graduate school.”
DiCredico was able to start getting back into physical shape this past July. She elected not to play field hockey, and work her way back to the softball diamond, but as an outfielder.
“Lauren stepped it up this year when she saw our (young) pitchers struggling,” said Salem head softball coach Leanne Doviak. “Ten days before we left for Fort Myers (Florida) for spring training, she asked for a shoulder brace for her torn labrum. She hasn’t looked back after that. We wouldn’t have made it to the MASCAC playoffs without her pitching. She has always wanted the best for the team and herself, and puts in extra hours and the work to make our team better.”
Storming Back
DiCredico is one of the pitchers on the team and before this past weekend’s regular season doubleheader, she had a 6-8 record with a 4.18 ERA. In 85.1 innings she had given up 33 walks and struck out 26.
“It’s been tough,” she said. “I wasn’t going to pitch and was just going to play the outfield but a few weeks into the season, Coach asked me and I knew that’s what the team needed. I’m happy to be back pitching.”
But she said, she’s not the same kind of pitcher was she before she became ill.
“I was never really the hard throwing pitcher,” she said. “But now I know I’m a lot slower than I was before. But I think I’m a smarter pitcher even though I lack in speed.”
On the other end, batting, DiCredico is having a tremendous season. She was hitting .338 before this past weekend, going 26-for-77 with 9 RBI. Seven times this season she had two hits in a game, and she also has a perfect fielding percentage between pitching and playing the outfield.
“Lauren is a great young lady with a great head on her shoulders,” said Doviak. “She is the athlete who will run through a wall for me. She won’t end her practice without it being perfection whether it be pitching, hitting, bunting or throwing, she has to end on a good note. She shows leadership on and off the field.”
Salem finished up the regular season this weekend and posted a 17-20-1 overall record, which includes an 8-6 league play mark. That was good enough to slide the team into the No. 4 spot in this upcoming week’s MASCAC playoffs where the Vikings will take on fellow Tewksbury resident Tiffanie Marsh and the rest of the Framingham State team. While DiCredico and her fellow pitchers will be trying to get out Marsh, another Tewksbury player Katie Doherty, who plays first base at Salem, spoke on behalf of DiCredico during last week’s Senior Day and had read this speech out loud on behalf of her longtime buddy who has faced so much adversity through life yet continues to take giant steps ahead.
“Livingston street is where it all began,” told Doherty. “Lacing up our cleats, grabbing our gloves and running into that field for the very first time; it’s hard to believe we’ve known each other for 13 years. From under ten travel ball to high school and now college, I’ve gotten the privilege to learn not only what an amazing player you are, but person as well. You’ve been an incredible teammate, motivator, role model and most important, friend. We all know the strength you possess after recovering from one of the biggest setbacks anyone could possibly endeavor. But I know just how strong you are, having to cope with the loss of such a wonderful guy at too young of an age.
“Everyday you find a way to inspire me. You deserve much more than a speech and some flowers. The respect I have for you for coming back and pushing through the last season of your college career is beyond words. Watching you on that mound brings me back to 2001 thinking to myself ‘this girl is amazing’ and 13 years later those same exact words play through my mind. You deserve all the wonderful things life has to offer and with your hard work and determination, I know it’s exactly what you will get. Having a piece of home here with me at Salem State has been one of the best experiences and I am more thankful than you’ll ever know.
“Denver, Colorado is your next stop, and though our softball years together have come to an end, no matter where life may take us, one thing we will always be is Tewksbury Tough.”