Posted on | May 7, 2014 | No Comments
Last year, I signed J up for “Wee ball” and then almost simultaneously got roped into “coaching” the team. To say that it was a disaster is an epic understatement. He cried when he had to go to the games. He hated putting on his gear and hated batting, throwing, catching, and everything else associated with baseball. So when the time rolled around to sign up again, I waffled. Ultimately, I decided to leave the decision up to J, and he immediately announced that he REALLY wanted to play this year.
So we signed up for a different league, one with “real” coaches, and I got to work re-outfitting my four year old with the world’s cutest baseball gear.
I never really think of my kid as athletic. He has my passion for doing things perfectly along with my desire to quit anything I’m not immediately good at and he’s not a natural ball player by any stretch of my imagination. Not like some of these kids I see out there. Banks and I got him out in the front yard to practice last weekend and he was all about not listening to one single word we had to say about batting stance, watching the ball, throwing overhanded, or God forbid catching. Because he’s four, and just like my brother, his Uncle E, J knows EVERYTHING already. You can say anything in the world to him and his response will be “I know that.” So it’s slightly trying on my patience levels to try to teach him anything… reading, math, baseball… anything.
But his t-ball coach this year, Coach Charlie, is quite possibly the reincarnation of Job.
Because he not only listens, he teaches… with a patience that astounds me and makes me wonder if he’s slipping himself Xanax on the regular just to deal with this rambunctious team of 4 and 5 year olds. Under his tutelage, my son who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn is learning how to hit the ball off a pitch and not a tee. My child who threw underhanded and often behind his own head, has started turning sideways and throwing overhanded. And this past weekend, in the midst of a game, my little boy trapped a fly ball against his leg and got an out to end the game.
And that coach made it the biggest deal in the world, taking the time to present him with the game ball for going above and beyond what they thought was possible.
Do you ever wonder what makes a kid love a sport? Do you think it’s because he’s born a natural athlete, a strong and broad shouldered kid with a great arm and a power swing? Because I used to think that. Then I watched my son beam from ear to ear last night because he barely hit a slow dribbling ball down the first base line, outran it to first base, and brought in a winning run to advance in the playoffs. He looked quickly to me to see if I was proud and then turned all of his attention to his coach, waiting for an inevitable high-five and congratulations.
The greatest appreciation of a game, I think, comes not from being born to play it… it comes from being taught to love it. Who knows who my son will be as he ages… who knows how well he may learn to hit or throw or catch or even pitch. But what I know from watching him this season, is that he is developing a love for baseball that I hope will stay with him all his life. And I also know that I will always be grateful for Coach Charlie taking the time to teach him that.