Moeller catcher inspired by memory of brother he lost - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Moeller catcher inspired by memory of brother he lost

Bailey and Levi Montoya (PHOTO: Provided) Bailey and Levi Montoya (PHOTO: Provided)

Bailey Montoya makes the drive from Dayton to Moeller every single day of the school year. It's an hour for the Moeller catcher to think, gather his thoughts, and remember his brother. It's been a long hard year for the Montoya's, learning how to live without Levi.

It's said, we are not defined by our losses, but rather how we respond to a loss. Montoya can never get back what he lost, but it's what he gained after the biggest loss of his life that's now defining who he's become and who he's becoming.

It's just the Moeller way. Pitch, catch, win, wash, repeat. This season, the Crusaders district champs a 12th straight year. But it's something that happened last year, with Moeller destined for a third state title in three years, that shook this perennial power.

"I get a text from coach Tim Held saying, ‘I need to see you in my room,'” said Moeller senior catcher Bailey Montoya. “So, me not knowing a whole lot about the situation, I just lazily walked into the room and he sat me down and said, I think you need to call your parents."

"It's just a surreal moment,” said Moeller head baseball coach Tim Held. “There's nothing in a coaching manual to help you in that situation."

On the night before Moeller's state semifinal game in 2014, Levi Montoya, Bailey's younger brother passed away in a tragic ATV accident. He was only 15-years-old.

"My heart kind of dropped because I realized my parents hadn't called or texted,” said Montoya. “I started getting texts from family saying, ‘We're sorry, we're praying for your family.' That's kind of when I lost it."

"You wake up every morning, and you cry for about a half hour,” said Bailey's father Lucky. “Then you start to remember what Levi was about."

Bailey came home to see his brother pass away in the hospital that night, and then returned to Columbus to play in a state semifinal game the very next day.

"Coach pulled me aside and said ‘Can you do this?' And I said, ‘Yeah, coach, this is what Levi would've wanted,'" said Montoya.

In the most emotional game of Bailey's life, Moeller did something surprising, they didn't win. What wasn't surprising, is how they supported their starting catcher, and the entire Montoya family.

"It was very emotional,” said Bailey's mom Christy. “After the game, all the Moeller boys were very accepting and they came right to us to express sympathies."

"It's unbelievable,” said Held. “I'm about to break down right now thinking about it. Just the power of our team and seeing them all rally around Bailey was so powerful."

Moeller dedicated this season to Levi Montoya. His football number, 46, engraved on their helmets. Engraved on their hearts, a reminder that what they lost, would not be their defeat. What Bailey Montoya gained? An entire team of brothers. They inspire him to carry on, knowing that Levi's spirit is with Bailey every time he takes the field.

"It's an ongoing process,” said Montoya. “Grief is nothing that's planned and sometimes it's harder than others, but I think of him every day for sure."

"A good friend told me, grief is a good way to know how many people really appreciate you,” said Lucky Montoya. “Because of it, it's been so nice to see the community get behind Bailey and say, ‘Hey, you can do this.' When Bailey's out there playing, you can see it, and the spirit is not only in him, it's in his teammates and all his brothers."

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