Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.
After starring on the softball diamond at Auburn University, Jade Rhodes went undrafted by the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch). Undaunted, she earned a spot in the league and won a Rawlings Gold Glove for the 2018 season.
Rhodes played 2016-2019 in the NPF. With the last two NPF seasons cancelled, nobody knows what will hold for the league in the future. She has been an instructor in the past. Either way, I am sure Rhodes will continue her softball journey on some level.
Capturing a moment with Rhodes was Don Martukovich, avid softball fan and top notch photographer. I met Don through our mutual interest in softball. Don is known for posting hundreds (thousands?) of pictures on social media. Over the years, he has probably gotten pictures of every NPF player, as well as many collegiate players. Don doesn't take a ton of pictures with the athletes, but occasionally he will appear, as in the picture with Rhodes.
Don is a good guy and has helped me many times by identifying players in pictures I took. I missed a chance to actually meet Don several years ago when I made a road trip to see the Akron Racers. Hopefully, when the NPF returns, we will meet at a Cleveland Comets game. Maybe he will even consider a trip to Rosemont to see the Athletes Unlimited softball league.
Jade Rhodes and Don Martukovich in Auburn, AL-February 2018.