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.
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.
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.
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.