A baseball game scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Montpelier High School will see the Solons take on the Oxbow Olympians. But before the first pitch is thrown, the field where the game takes place will be renamed to honor the memory of Montpelier senior Peyton Smith. Peyton died at the age of 18 in October from an aggressive form of pediatric bone cancer.
Peyton's father, Matt Smith, is a professor of aerospace at Norwich University and a reserve Air Force officer. He'll speak about his son in the pre-game ceremony.
He says his son loved sports, and that he'd hoped to make a career designing some of the gear worn by the world's best athletes.
"Baseball was his passion. Basketball was his passion," Smith remembered. "And in that context, one of the things that he really, really enjoyed, he loved sneakers and the footwear. He loved the history behind sneakers. Something that he wanted to do when he got older was to design footwear for professional athletes... that was something he was he was going to college for at the time that he passed. He was a student up at St. Mike's."
Peyton's younger brother, Keegan Smith, is now a freshman who plays on the Montpelier baseball team. Smith said it hasn't been easy for Keegan, dealing with the loss of his older brother, but playing the game they both love has been a part of the healing process.
"He's dealt with it very well, and I think that what he is trying to do in his own way, is he has tried to try to honor Peyton by playing baseball and by competing as hard as he can, and trying to do the things that Peyton couldn't do," Smith said. "In the last two years that he was sick, Peyton was a part of the baseball team, he was a part of the basketball team. But he certainly wasn't at the level that he was at before he was sick. So I think he's just trying to carry Peyton's honor, and his traditions, on the field and on the court."
The combined stress of losing a son to cancer during a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has upended so much of normal life hasn't been easy for Smith or his family, but he said he's been buoyed by the support of Vermonters.
"I think that's been obvious in this community, is that you know you know how much your son means to you, but to see the community rallying, I think that's been the most meaningful, most heartfelt thing for us," he said.
The pre-game ceremony dedicating the baseball field in honor of Peyton Smith's memory takes place at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. The ceremony will be moved to next week should the game be rained out.
The scoreboard overlooking the field will also bear Peyton Smith's name.
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