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YOUTH BASEBALL

Grasping opportunity in spite of adversity

Overcoming the odds
By: Joshua Gutierrez Placer Herald Correspondent
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In early September, Aidan Malm and his family will commute nearly 2,800 miles to Cary, N.C., to play in the annual National Team Identification Series. The young pitcher/infielder will represent Rocklin as part of a Northern California team. The teams invited to the NTIS are divided by age coming from 14 different regions. Players are placed into 17, 16 or 14-and-under age groups. Malm participates in the latter. Players invited will compete for a chance to be part of a U.S. National Team. Major Leaguers such as Giants’ catcher Buster Posey and reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw have participated in these events. “These are people I watch in the Major Leagues,” said Malm, responding to the company of future and past All-Stars who frequent these events. “And I aspire to be like them.” The opportunity was not taken likely by the young Kansas City Royals fan. “I have another opportunity to get looked at,” said Malm. “And hopefully get a Division I scholarship.” The joy expressed by Malm and his family was made even more special considering what they went through just a few months ago. In early March, Malm fractured vertebra in his neck and two compressed vertebrae in his spine. His father, Steve Malm, described the event as one of those things a mother typically says to every child his age, “Quit rough housing or someone is going to get hurt.” In failing to heed that warning Aidan Malm slipped and fell awkwardly on his neck and broke it. Along with that injury, the young ball player also suffered a concussion severe enough to erase his memory. “He doesn’t remember any time in his Little League … any family memories” said his father, “It’s quite the challenge for us.” It wasn’t until the third week of May that doctor’s cleared young Malm to play baseball. One month later he was competing for a spot on the NTIS Northern California regional team. The competition included talent from San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Salinas, and as far north as the California-Oregon border. Only 18 players made the team and the Malm family didn’t find out Aidan had made it until days later. That called for a double celebration. “We’re just happy he is walking and talking,” said his father, “let alone competing at this level.” The Malm family expressed their deep appreciation for the efforts of medical personal, family, the community of fans and coaches that shaped their son from his time in Little League. The message not only travels to Cary, but also to Whitney High School where the pitcher will enter as a freshman this fall.