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By Frank DiRenna,

Worthington Christian’s victory on Monday provided sophomore Jameson Colley with a chance to do more than celebrate an MSL-Ohio Division championship with his teammates.

He was able to reflect on what the school’s baseball program has meant to him during the most challenging period of his life. 

Colley was 13 when he was diagnosed with leukemia on Dec. 9, 2019 — a date his mother, Shelley, will never forget. She said her son was constantly feeling run down and enduring fevers and knee pain while in seventh grade at Worthington Christian, leading to testing and the diagnosis. 

“I never felt sick at all previously,” Jameson said. “It just came on really quickly. I started not feeling well, was out (of school) for about two weeks and they checked and saw I had leukemia. I knew I had to fight through it, get through it with my team. Last year I wasn’t able to play a lot, but it was really nice being on the team and being with the guys.”

The program has been a source of strength for Jameson, so when his family connected with the Make-A-Wish Foundation during his treatment, he chose to make the Warriors the focus of his wish.

Jameson, 16, asked for a batting cage. It was added to the athletic complex at the school, behind the third-base dugout, and named in his honor. 

“I wanted to help my team,” he said. “I just felt like, ‘Why do this for myself? Why can’t I just help others and help my team and help the next baseball players?’ ” 

A sign at the Jameson Colley Batting Cages, which were dedicated on April 13, 2022, reads: “Jameson’s mission to ‘consider others better than himself’ is an example for all to follow.”

Coach Tim Kraynak, who is also the school’s principal and a neighbor of the Colleys in Worthington, said Jameson’s battle with leukemia and his selflessness have brought the Warriors closer together.

“Jameson’s first love is baseball and for us to be able to surround him and support him has been really neat,” Kraynak said. “He’s a warrior. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached. For a kid to be diagnosed with leukemia and for a couple, three years to really get himself in a position where he can enjoy a moment like this (league title) is a testament to his character.

“His family is incredible. The thing that I like most about him is he doesn’t like to talk about it. He wants to be a normal kid. … This puts things in perspective.” 

Shelley said her son always thinks of others before himself.

“He’s always looking out for other people,” she said. “He would have loved to do a (Make-A-Wish) trip, but in some ways, it was a blessing. With COVID, Make-A-Wish said they can’t do travel wishes, so he had to think outside the box. He didn’t want to do a shopping spree or some kind of party, something that would just benefit him. He wanted to help his school or his team.”

The treatment plan for Jameson’s illness included chemotherapy infusions, thousands of pills, spinal tap infusions and bone marrow biopsies. He had frequent checkups to monitor his progress and was cleared to end the treatments on April 28, 2022. 

Results from his bloodwork have since been considered normal, but doctors will continue to monitor his health for the next three to four years. 

“His immune system is still weak, but it’s definitely stronger than it was last year at this time,” Shelley said. 

Jameson was able to resume playing baseball in eighth grade and saw limited time for Worthington Christian as a freshman, serving as a reserve, before moving into the starting lineup this season in left field. His father, Jason, is an assistant coach for the middle school team. 

Through 21 games this spring, Jameson was batting .310 with four doubles, five RBIs and nine runs scored. 

“I’m 100 percent back,” he said. “My speed is back. I’m able to hit further, run faster. It’s really good.” 

Jameson also competed in basketball and cross country before his illness but now focuses only on baseball. He has a 3.8 GPA and hopes to pursue an engineering degree in college.

He also has helped Worthington Christian to an 18-3 record as it prepares for the Division III district tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Warriors are seeded second, behind Fredericktown and one spot ahead of MSL-Ohio rival Columbus Academy.

The Warriors rallied to beat Academy 8-6 on Monday to secure the outright league title at 11-1. It’s their first MSL-Ohio championship since 2019.

“This is a special team,” Jameson said. “We have such a good bond together and just a team mentality. Every time we go out, we just play our hardest. They have been inspiring me to keep going, and now that I’m healed to push me to keep going to be the best I can on the field.” 

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