Month: June 2018

Lessons Learned From Coaching T-Ball

Back in January, I went to a local middle school gym to sign-up the kids for Little League. While both have played baseball in the past with YCMA and Parks & Rec leagues, this marked our first official experience with Little League – an organization that is synonymous wholesome Americana and considered by many to be a childhood rite of passage. In Arizona, I grew up playing Little League softball and as a result, I developed a lifelong love for the sport. During my later years in high school, it became obvious that despite being good – I wasn’t good enough to play at an elite college level. So after graduation, I transitioned to an intramural and fun-league softball player and still rather enjoy surprising people with a diving catch or a hit into center left.

So when a league coordinator at the Little League sign-ups pleaded for people to volunteer as T-Ball coaches, I felt a push that I needed to do it because I got so much out of my Little League experience growing up. This is a crazy season of our lives – Clay’s position takes him away a lot and with Violet playing T-ball and Weston playing baseball, I knew there’d be times I’d have to be in two places at once. But after the league coordinator assured me that the T-Ball head coach commitment was manageable, I filled-out the paperwork and agreed to coach my daugher’s T-Ball team.

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The league undersold the commitment – beyond practices and games, there were mandatory manager meetings, field prep, and other events. It was difficult to coach Violet’s team and not feel like I wasn’t there for Weston. Clay was gone a lot but thankfully not too many games overlapped so I was able to see both kids play most of the time. Practices overlapped a lot and required me to be in two places at the same time – which is officially one of the my least favorite aspects of parenting. And when you’re the coach, it just adds an extra layer of stress. That being said – the 2018 spring season ended a few weeks ago and I can definitively say that I am thankful for the opportunity to coach Little League. And I learned a few things along the way.

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I learned that parents can make or break a team. Almost every parent associated with my team was willing to pitch in and help when needed, which is absolutely essential for a successful season. Additionally, I had fantastic assistant coaches who made my job easier because wrangling 12 four-to-six-year-olds can be absolutely exhausting.

I also learned that there are some intense coaches. Overall I had a good experience with the other T-ball coaches in the league. There were a few that perhaps aren’t suited for working with this age group and one in particular who made the game miserable due to his attitude and behavior toward the children, but I just reminded myself that there are bad seeds everywhere. It was painfully obvious that some were coaching in order to fill a void caused by broken major league dreams rather than to teach fundamentals to our next generation. Seeing that always bummed me out a bit.

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And finally, I learned that it’s difficult to coach your own kid. Or at least my kid. Violet is a strong personality. She is also super affectionate and never hesitates to give me a hug – even if we’re in the middle of a game. She doesn’t like to hear “No!” and if she isn’t the best at something, she will convince herself that it isn’t worth doing. I learned a lot about my daughter this season. I also learned a lot about myself.

As the sidebar on this silly little blog states, children constantly remind me that I don’t know as much about the world as I think I do. My season as a T-ball coach certainly proved this to be true. I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and hope to do it again in the future. I hope that I helped foster an appreciate for a sport that I love and I hope that the kids learned a rule or two about the game. But most of all, I hope the kids had fun.

 

Adventures in Kayaking

When Clay reported to Fort Drum, New York many moons ago, we ended up choosing Sackets Harbor, New York to be our home as young twenty-something newlyweds. For three years, we lived a few hundred yards from the Black River Bay, which is feeds into Lake Ontario. We absolutely adored living in the little resort town and took full advantage of living on the water. We purchased kayaks, made friends with a couple who owned a boat, and didn’t let too many days go by without being on the water in some form or another.

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~ Lake Ontario, New York 2007 ~

When we moved to Raleigh, North Carolina we decided to store our kayaks at Clay’s parents, who live outside of Wilmington. When visiting, we’d take them into the Cape Fear River and keep our eyes open for alligators. Our kayaks remain in North Carolina to this day because once our son arrived into our world and the Army sent us to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, it just seemed easier store them near a water source we knew we’d visit a lot.

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~ Cape Fear River, North Carolina in 2009 ~

So for the past seven years, we’ve only used our kayaks when visiting Clay’s parents. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not above renting kayaks when we travel.

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~ Crystal River, Michigan 2012 ~

We’ve kayaked down the Crystal River in Glen Arbor, Michigan.

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~ Long Bay, St. Thomas, USVI 2014 ~

And we’ve gone out at night on clear-bottomed kayaks in the Virgin Islands.

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~ Lake Lanier, Georgia 2015 ~

Over the years, we’ve cut it close with storms.

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And we’ve spent hours upon hours together on the water. It’s our happy place. I think I like it so much because it really is a great analogy for life. Kayaking is fun. It can be hard. And there will be times that you are so tired that you just want to stop paddling and coast. Just like life. Kayaking can be peaceful. It can be exciting. And it can be scary. So pretty much – kayaking is life.

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~ Lake Lanier, Georgia 2017 ~

My parents have a couple of kayaks at their place on Lake Lanier, Georgia. So when we visit, we’ve taken the kids out on the kayaks there to expose them to the sport and get them excited to be on the water. We thought about grabbing our kayaks from North Carolina last time we were stationed in the Washington DC area but the kids were really young and then the Army sent us to Kansas and then Texas – it just seemed easier to leave them there.

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~ Potomac River, Virginia 2018 ~

But guess what? We’re back in Northern Virginia. And our once-tiny kids grew and they’re not so tiny anymore. In fact, they’re both fully capable of using an oar and manning the front seat in a double kayak. Needless to say, Clay and I are thrilled.

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We took the kids to Fountainhead Regional Park this past Sunday and rented two double kayaks. We foolishly forgot our life vests at home so we had to rent those too (womp womp). We managed to get an hour of kayaking in before thunderstorms rolled in.

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We hope to pick up our kayaks in North Carolina soon and bring them home. They are single kayaks but the wells are big enough for the kids to sit with us but we will likely eventually trade them in for two double kayaks. Because a family the kayaks together, stays together.