During the recent round of National Letter of Intent signings for colleges San Diego State’s baseball team landed Derrick Peterson on a very special day.
“Today I’m 8,” said Derrick, and the birthday boy is a ballplayer to his core.
“Every single time I get to bat or stuff like that it’s always amazing,” said Derrick. “Unless you get hit. That’s when you’re like OW, OW, OW!”
He’s had more than his share of OW moments, but not from baseball. When he was 2 years old Derrick was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a kidney issue where too much protein is released into the urine. He’ll likely have to deal with it for the rest of his life but a new treatment is showing promise.
“Fingers crossed, we have two months to go and Derrick will be in remission for a year,” said his mother Jennifer Peterson. “This is the longest remission we’ve been in so we’re kind of just letting his body take its course.”
Derrick joined the Aztecs through Team Impact, a program that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with collegiate athletic teams.
“It’s the best thing ever to have this opportunity,” said Derrick. “It’s so fun being with these players and when I signed the Letter of Intent it was the best!”
Obviously, Derrick is having a blast being part of a Division-1 baseball program. But looking at them interact it’s hard to tell which is the bigger impact: the players on Derrick or Derrick on the players.
“We’re both teaching each other. Mostly them,” said Derrick. “They get to see a kid with problems and I get to see how to be better as a baseball player. So it’s like a good thing for both of us.”
That could just be the new guy being modest.
“Honestly he’s impacting us probably more than we’re impacting him,” said Aztecs head coach Mark Martinez. “He’s been such a joy to be around. Our guys have just latched onto him; when he shows up it’s a big deal. Guys stop if they’re out playing catch and find a way to get him out there so he’s really helped us.”
Derrick says he wants to go to SDSU and become an anaesthesiologist because when he got a kidney biopsy the doctor let him paint his own mask and he wants to do nice things for kids in his situation, too.
But don’t count out him being a member of the Aztecs baseball program in a decade.
“I think the best way to put it is he’s 4-foot-2, 60 pounds, but he plays like he’s 6-foot-4 and 230 and he has a passion for the game,” said Martinez. “It oozes off of him whether he’s playing catch, swinging a bat, or fielding a ground ball. When he walks in the room he’s got a big presence and that’s going to carry him a long way.”
Perhaps with their new good luck charm the Aztecs can go a long way and make their first ever trip to the College World Series.