Through the best and the worst times, baseball has always been there for BYU third baseman Austin Deming. And luckily for the junior, the 2021 season is just around the corner.
The last year has been a rollercoaster of a year, having the 2020 season canceled after 16 games. While Deming is all too aware that baseball is just a game, he’s appreciated having something to look forward to and to serve as a sort of distraction.
The first time Deming really relied on baseball to help him get through a tough period was in middle school. Deming was 12 when his mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. After a year of chemo and radiation, Mindy Deming beat her initial diagnosis, but the cancer moved to her brain. The mother of four then faced a Stage 4 brain cancer diagnosis and underwent another year of chemo and radiation.
Through his mother’s cancer journey, Deming never feared he’d lose her. It wasn’t until he was taking his younger twin brother and sister on a tour of his old middle school that he realized the severity of his mom’s diagnosis.
“I ran into an old teacher — this would have been my freshman year of high school or sophomore year,” Deming said. “And she was like ‘your mom’s a lucky lady. She’s a miracle — she shouldn’t even be here.’ And I was like ‘oh, wow.’ That was one of the first times it really hit me and I realized. It took two years to really realize the significance of it.”
Because Deming and his siblings were young, Mindy and Eron tried to protect their children from worrying or getting too scared about the situation. However, there were still noticeable changes in the Deming household.
Eron made sure to drive his wife to all of her appointments, which resulted in Deming and his siblings carpooling with classmates and teammates.
“I kind of had to mature pretty quick,” Deming said. “My dad was always there for us; he was good, very helpful … but also it was chaos. You have three younger siblings, mom’s out for two years, so I had to kind of take care of them.”
However, even though Deming took on more responsibility with his younger siblings around the house, his parents made sure their oldest child didn’t miss out on his passion: baseball.
Through his mom’s two-year cancer journey, Deming continued playing with his travel team. The team coach and players rallied around Deming, wearing pink jerseys those two seasons and offering endless support.
Looking back, Deming wouldn’t change anything in regards to how he was forced to mature early and take care of his siblings, but is surprised his parents insisted he keep playing baseball.
“But my dad always tells me how much that pushed my mom, because she loved watching us play so much,” Deming said. “... My dad says that pushed her a lot to want to beat it.”
And Mindy did beat it. The 47-year-old has been in remission for eight years.
What Deming was also able to learn throughout those two years was how to roll with the punches — something that’s been needed even more recently.
The junior third baseman has seen how other BYU teams have managed to have successful seasons through the pandemic, but they’ve still had to endure cancelations, postponements, last-minute additions and more just to have the chance to play.
The team, which opens its 2021 campaign Saturday at Texas State, is hoping for a normal season, but staff is also making sure to let their players know anything could change at any time.
“Another thing I’ve taken away is definitely don’t take anything for granted,” Deming said. “If we go out and we’re able to play, just know we could not play tomorrow. That’s what I learned last year with the season getting canceled. Kind of just trying to have the normal mindset and, if something does happen, hopefully you can push through it.”