A San Diego community has rallied around a two-sport athlete since he was diagnosed with brain cancer after his freshman year of high school.
Last week, Cathedral Catholic took their support for senior Brycen Newman two steps further; they retired his number and allowed him to play catcher and receive a live pitch.
During Cathedral’s Senior Day festivities last week, head coach Gary Remiker announced that the school was retiring Brycen’s No. 3 jersey along with commissioning an artist to paint a mural in Cathedral’s home dugout of Brycen.
As the Del Mar Times reported, Newman was diagnosed with the rare brain cancer medulloblastoma, in 2015. Prior to the diagnosis, he was a two-sport athlete at Cathedral, playing football and baseball. While his competitive playing days were over, Remiker and football coach Sean Doyle ensured that Brycen was always a part of their teams.
Over the last several years, he has become an inspirational figure at the school. With a “Battle for Brycen” Facebook page keeping people updated on Newman’s progress, those in the community have raised over $10,000 to support brain cancer research.
The most priceless moment, surely, had to be when Remiker put Newman in the game to receive the first live pitch of the May 17 game against San Diego’s St. Augustine. A former catcher, Newman caught the perfect pitch from his longtime friend, Nick Nastrini.
As the Times reports, Newman wore No. 22 for the game to honor his friend, Bradley Polinski. The two played travel baseball together for the Del Mar Riptides starting at 7 years old. The Times reports that, in turn, Polinski drew a “3” outside the batter box each time he came up to the plate to hit.
Adding to the first pitch was that Newman received it on the same field where he hit a 10th-inning, walk-off double to lift Cathedral to its first freshman championship in school history three years ago.
“That is the first pitch that Brycen has received since he was operated on in July 2015,” wrote Brycen’s dad Rick Newman to the Times. “Brycen was such a natural behind the plate, he looks that good even after two 10-hour brain surgeries, chemo, radiation and one year of intense physical therapy and not playing baseball for the past three years.”
Per the Times, following the pitch, Newman went to the mound and embraces his teammates. The Saints batter at the plate even stopped to applaud.
Newman will graduate on June 2 and will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall. This was a pretty cool moment to have in his back pocket before he leaves campus – a campus he has changed for the better.