Updated: Sep 21, 2020
For the past 10 years, I was prepared to spend my entire working life coaching college baseball, and I had accepted the sacrifices that come with that life.
Now, with a change of scenery and a new career underway, I get to do something I never thought I would.
I get to coach T-Ball.
Shortly after moving up to Idaho, I signed Ace up and expressed interest in coaching. For the first time in 7 years, a coaching interview led to a job. Albeit an unpaid one. But you won't hear me complaining.
We had one practice highlighted by choosing a team name. The kids (6 boys and 1 girl ages 4-5) decided that we would be known as the Dinos. No surprise there.
Last Saturday (9/5) was our first game, and it was as much fun as I've ever had on a ball field.
Zero of the 12 players on the field could catch the ball; therefore, very few outs were made.
Most of the time the defender picks up the ball and just stands there, which doesn't exactly hinder the opportunity to get the ball to first base in time because the hitter is still standing in the batter's box smiling while I lose my voice yelling, "Run to First! Run to First! Run. To. First!!!" 311 times.
Before you get your shorts all twisted, I know, they are 4 and 5. I assure you my yelling is not in frustration. The kids are just so captivated by the moment that if I don't use my big kid outside voice forcefully, they might just stand in the batter's box staring at the ball for eternity.
Anyway, as I mentioned previously, I coached college baseball for 10 years. After 1 T-Ball practice and game, I've come to the conclusion that coaching T-Ball presents a totally different set of challenges, and it might indeed prove to be a more difficult undertaking than coaching 18-22 year olds.
Four and 5 year olds don't exactly show up with many fundamentals intact. Some start with a bit better foundation than others, but for the most part, they know nothing, and they don't listen to anything you say. They do, however, know how to have fun, though they'd probably have more fun wearing dish towels as a cape and pretending to be Superman, at this age. That is, until you show them that they can have just as much fun on a baseball field.
My primary job, don't get in the way of their fun. I am 100% committed to keeping the game fun for my kids and the other kids that I get to coach as I rise up through the Little League ranks...that is, if my kids stay interested of course. Maybe a few of them will get a little better in the process. And, of course, while winning isn't much a part of the process in T-Ball, winning sure is fun. So I'll have to teach them how to win once they get to the appropriate age.
***Side note...Ace found my old trophy box in the garage. He told Hope, "Those are trophies. You have to win something to get one of those." I didn't teach him that. He picked it up all on his own somewhere. I was very proud.***
I've loved baseball for as long as I can remember. I've had a ton of fun at many different levels as both a player and a coach. However, some of my fondest memories come from my days at Chico Westside Little League playing for the Lions and Coach Dave Peterson.
Hopefully, 25 years from now, a grown man coaching his kids will say something similar about playing for me.
Tomorrow is game 2. My goal for the day is to teach the kids to run to first base as soon as they hit the ball so that I only have to yell "Run to First," 49 times instead of 311.
Wish me luck.