Rising From The Ashes, Recent injuries can’t keep Brittan from his beloved Diamond
Students are wrapping up tests and presents while getting ready for almost a month-long break from rigors of academia.
Brittan Diamond, a Sulphur Springs graduate, was no different that his fellow students at Texarkana College. The 19-year-old was taking life easy, living on a scholarship.
Then came the fire. Who knew frying chicken could be so hazardous.
"I was trying to fry chicken and really didn't know how," Diamond admitted. "The cooking oil in the pan got too hot and we were trying to put it out. It all splashed out and caught me on fire."
Diamond recounts the story without much emotion, but his painful wounds landed him in hospital for five days.
"It burned me on both legs - the biggest burn was on my right thigh and down and my right knee down," Diamond said. "I had a bad place on my left ankle where my shorts stuck when I tried to pull them off when they were on fire."
Amazingly enough Diamond's second degree burns did not require skin grafts and he is told by doctors he shouldn't scar. He even worked with therapy to stretch skin which had grown tight enough to bind his achilles tendon.
The former Wildcat athlete also endured the cleaning and dressing of his burns for several weeks. The second week of January marked the first time he was able to go without any sort of bandages under his clothes.
Diamond returned to Sulphur Springs during his recovery. Several days he had make a trek to Paris for treatment to his wounds. But back in his hometown, he was overwhelmed by the support he received.
"I knew people care about me, but I never knew how many. My phone was ringing and my parents phone was ringing all the time. People came by to visit and they sent meals and stuff," Diamond said. "People at our church, League Street Church of Christ, put me on the prayer list and it was all very nice. It's good to feel that kind of support. It makes me feel blessed now just to walk and do things normal people do."
Diamond was much more than normal at Sulphur Springs High School. A standout in football and baseball, he had choices of scholarships. Some for football, others for baseball, some a combination offer.
In his senior year the pitcher/infielder hit .357 with 17 home runs, 34 hits at the plate. On the mound the 6-foot-2-inch right-hander had an 8-2 record with an earned run average of 1.47 striking out 94 batters in 86 innings.
Diamond was doing well in college, posting a hit in every game of fall ball for the Bulldogs. He was not only hitting well, but posted an earned run average of 2.10 in a relief role. He was using his fastball, curve and a forkball he calls "MacGyver"
Texarkana College head baseball coach Will Bolt is not surprised in the least that Diamond will be back on the roster and ready to play.
"I was at first concerned about Brittan - the person - if he was going to be all right," Bolt said. "When I found out more about the wounds and his condition, I had no doubt he would come back. He is such a fierce competitor, it's just his nature. He's a very tough kid."
Diamond’s injuries did not affect his baseball playing ability, in fact his arm was not touched in the fire, just his legs.
Bolt continued, "We recruited him as a pitcher. He has a good curve and a slider, he attacks from the mound. He could be a starter, but we like the versatility it gives us with him being an infielder and also a relief pitcher and this is just his first year.
"He's a line drive hitter at the plate," Bolt said. "He hits the ball from gap-to-gap, he was really doing well in fall ball. We don't keep stats, because the games are really like practice. But he was consistently getting hits and playing well."
Diamond said it seems like to him that the weeks he spent rehabbing from his wounds went quick. Being injured rekindled his burning despite to get back into his favorite sport.
Diamond has not played baseball since fall ball ended in late October. He's anxious to play now that his burns have healed.
"I am so ready, I just can't even express it. I just love baseball, I really feel at home on a baseball field," Diamond said. "We have a good team, we have a lot of talent. I see us going pretty far."
The Bulldog player said his team is truly a team and not made up of individuals.
"We played some teams with great talent in the fall. But we played as a team and we came out on top against the individuals," Diamond said.
Diamond said having a chance to play baseball now, after weeks of being cooped up recovering from his wounds, has given him a new respect for life.
"Life is a wonderful thing," Diamond said. "You don't want to get carried away with it. You want to have fun, but you also have to be cautious. It's a great thing to just be able to walk and play the game. I am ready to get after it, I have been sitting around so long."
Diamond is happiest when he is on the baseball diamond.
"If I am at the plate, I don't care if I am facing Nolan Ryan, I am determined to get a hit," Diamond said with a laugh. "The same thing is true when I am pitching. I have the ball in my hand and I control the game. It's a good feeling."
Diamond said he would like continue playing baseball after Texarkana College at a higher level. If he is unable to do that, he is working on a business degree to one day join his brother, Chris doing appraisals and land survey work.
LaClaire Diamond is glad to see her son back and ready to rejoin his baseball career.
"I think he may have learned a lot from this experience," she said. "Good things can come from bad situations."
Brittan Diamond will soon be just another student back in the apartments at Texarkana College. He has survived a test of fire and risen from those ashes to chase his dreams in baseball.
Diamond said, "I learned a lot of things the last month or two. I think I will leave the chicken frying to someone else."