Monday, April 6, 2009

Play Ball!

A decade ago I coached 13-15 year-olds in baseball. Did it for three years with a friend.
This week, my son Jackson, 5, will take the field in tee-ball. I am not coaching him, but stood ready had I been asked.
I coached all those years ago because the local league needed help and because I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a family. Things sure change over time!
Here I am at 41 with my oldest boy getting ready for his first season in the sun. I think it’s cool and I hope it’s the beginning of many sports activities he will be involved in.
Will I encourage my boys to play sports? Sure. I will encourage them to try as many things as they can. Activities keep young minds busy and competition is healthy.
Will I live vicariously through them? No. I had my glory years and I don’t plan on having any more ... at least athletically.
The demands we put on our children are easy: Be disciplined, try your best and make straight A’s. I know for sure they are both intelligent so I’m confident they can make some terrific grades once they get in school.
Back to tee-ball. Jack and I discussed sports in general the other day and he now thinks he knows how to hustle. We all know how much difference hustling makes, but I don’t recall him ever doing it.
Speaking of hustle ... My mother and father actually left a soccer game of mine in third grade for my lack of hustle.
“What happened to you!” I screamed at my parents when I got home (I had to find a ride home).
Mom calmly replied, “We are not going to waste our time watching you if you are not going to do your best.”
We never had to have that conversation again.
I can recall some tee-ball action from my younger days as well. It’s a good thing too as I can remember being terrible. That’s right - coach put me in right field to begin the season and I promptly took a fly ball off my forehead. Got a nice goose-egg.
By the end of the season, coach had moved me to center field. Most of what I remember about that season involved a lot of nose picking and ant stomping from my teammates.
I also remember several players running toward third base instead of first. I really emphasized this point with Jack.
Anyhow, it will be a lot of fun watching these kids take the field for the first time. They have no idea what they’re setting us up for over the next 13 years.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

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