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.

 

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2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From Coaching T-Ball

  1. Really enjoyed reading this! When Jamie signed up Hadley for t-ball, he got an email a few days later asking if he could head coach. He knew he would miss two out of eight games because of his drill schedule, so he declined but instead offered to assistant coach. I give you soooo much credit for stepping up and doing this. I would bet that Violet will respect this so much when she’s older. If I found out as an adult that my mom coached my t-ball team even though my dad was gone and my brother had games too, I would have thought the absolute world of her. You are awesome! PS: I agree that parents can make or break an experience. I cringe at Sadie’s gymnastics classes at some of the parents who are hollering at their three-year-olds to get it together and train to be Olympians. Lord.

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  2. Coaching Little League sounds like so much fun! I bet it can be challenging to coach your own child. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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