Spring-time in our family means it’s time to play ball. Growing up, some of my fondest memories revolve around the game of baseball. From Little League to Mickey Mantle, middle school and high school, I loved it all. One of my great joys now is watching each of my children play the game. They each have their own styles, strengths, and personalities in the game. It is fun to watch each of them shine in their own way.
My son is in his first year of Little League Coach Pitch Baseball, the only kindergartener on a team of second and third grade boys and girls. He plays on a team sponsored by Palace Playland (New England’s only beachfront amusement park), but has aspirations of pitching for the Yankees. Given his level of self-confidence and natural athletic ability (I might be slightly biased), I don’t doubt that one day he will achieve his dream. To watch him on the field now you can see his level of concentration and focus, and also his excitement. He’s under no pressure, we just want him to learn and have fun…but we can tell that he is driven, even at this young age. I hope that he keeps that enthusiasm, as well as his pride in being part of a team while maintaining his individuality.
My youngest daughter is also in her first year of Little League. playing Coach Pitch Softball. Since she has never played before other than in our back yard, she seemed to be quite apprehensive about the whole thing. My wife and I encourage our children to be in at least one extracurricular activity each season, for the exercise as well as social development. Riley loves to play soccer in the fall, but had not participated in a spring sport yet. We strongly encouraged her to join softball, with the anticipation that I would coach her team (which happens to be sponsored by my fire department). As circumstances would have it, I am not coaching and she is better for it. She had her first game last night…and LOVED it! She is a runner, with long legs and lungs that just won’t quit. Last night she discovered that she is a hitter as well. She hit safely in four plate appearances, scored all four times on base, and hustled to beat out a throw at third. Her smile let me know that she is enjoying herself as well as embracing the sport.
My oldest daughter is on the IR list (upper ankle sprain), so has to sit this season out, but she is still dedicated to her middle school team. She attends every game in her jersey, assisting in any way she can. She keeps the book, wraps and tapes sore muscles and joints, assists with equipment, and cheers her teammates on. She seems to thrive in a team environment, even when she is unable to take the field. To see her level of passion and compassion for her friends, and the pride she takes in their successes, shows that their is still hope for future generations to look at the world beyond themselves.
This is the first season that I have not been a coach, due to my illness. The plus side of that is that I get to sit and watch, I mean really watch and enjoy, my kids playing the game I love with my wife! What a different perspective. I don’t have to focus on who gets how much playing time, or making sure that the team is working together in a cohesive manner, or the hardest part…dealing with other parents! Instead I get to appreciate my children’s enjoyment without distraction. It appears as if we have instilled a love of the game into them as well.
Week two of Little League…