The warmer weather is trying to get and keep the attention of Mother Nature and, in similar fashion, Little League season has started where junior players seek to get and maintain the approval of their coaches, team mates and parents on fields everywhere. Any seasoned parent on the sidelines knows this time of year also marks the beginning of the end of your weekend freedom. Now some parents embrace this–either because they love baseball, or they coach, or they have a compulsive need to win…whatever floats your boat, I say. Other parents (like me) simply smile and accept this because they love their children and would give up anything for their happiness even if it means shivering through a 5pm April game or sweating their butt off during a 2pm August playoff (some kids can play through a summer league).
For my little slugger, this season is a bit different. Our son is in the bigger kid division, but still one of the youngest, and my husband who has been coaching for the last three years has had to sit this season out for some health reasons, so being there in the stands is REALLY important.
I have heard my share of sports/life analogies and sayings that sounded a bit simplistic or way too trite for me but that I really wanted to be able to pull out at a time like this. Stuff like: “it’s not how many times you strike out, it’s about getting back up to bat”, or “it’s all about follow through”; and, of course, Babe Ruth’s famous “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” They just don’t roll off my tongue, I guess.
What struck me sitting on the bench this weekend was how this season is important for our son to show him what he is capable of. That he can get through a season with his step-dad sitting on the other side of the fence and rooting for him, even when he’s not his coach, and that he can hold his own with the bigger kids. Regardless of how many hits or runs or strikes he pitches…he can do this. I believe he can. And I think he is starting to believe it too. We’re in week three of the season. They’ve won two out of three games, and we’ve been on the sidelines cheering him on. Little League can be a powerful thing. Not just for the kids, for the parents too
I found this quote from Mikey Mantle that is a great one to share with a struggling little player or their parent…because I think it helped me more than it helped him, giving both parties some great perspective:
“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”
For someone who shunned sports sayings, there’s a lot of “sports talk” in there, but the message (to me) is clear. You want to get up to bat as much as you can. That’s where you learn, and that’s where the action is. Not everything will be a hit, but even that doesn’t mean you’re not in the game. Ok, so I guess I do like some sports analogies.