It’s time for the little ones to start their baseball season at the YMCA. We have never put our children in the ‘elite’ groups because we wanted them to be able to play and enjoy the game. I know lots of people believe in what I call ‘hard-core’ sports teams for their little ones — but I just can’t see the sense in making a child play as many games as the pro teams play. I still believe that they should be playing ‘games’ at this age. That doesn’t mean that they should be totally noncompetitive because that is part of the fun – learning how to win and lose with grace and dignity – something I think gets lost in the elite sports where there is too much emphasis on being really good at the sport and no emphasis on the FUN of the sport. There are other reasons we never put them in elite sports – money and skill. We never had the money required for these types of sports where there is lots of travel and fancy uniforms – and quite frankly only one of children ever showed enough skill to make it on one of those teams!
Did it scar my children for life? Oh, I’ve probably scarred them for life by making them do their homework and housework — I don’t think sports is the only reason they are scarred. Did I rob them of a chance for a college scholarship or a career in the pros? I highly doubt it – and even those people who do put their children through the elite team structure are not guaranteed a college scholarship or a pro career. Would I do it differently if I had a chance? Nope — but that is true of everything in my life.
So – it is time to repeat the formula with my grandchildren. Lizzie and Liam have started with T-ball and coach-pitch baseball at the YMCA. They love playing ball and there is no pressure to be the best. It is a joy to watch them find the bases and figure out which direction they need to go. The parents laugh at their little ones and there are no harsh words on the field when someone doesn’t get it quite right. Everyone on the team gets to play and no one is left out. The winner? The kids! They get to play and enjoy themselves in the sun – what could be better!
Will Lizzie be a star softball player? Don’t know yet — right now she is having difficulty reminding her coach that she is a lefty. When she does, she manages to hit the ball – which is good. When she is playing a base, it is a little more problematic – Lizzie spends most of her time cleaning the base – those messy kids keep getting dirt all over that little white bag! What the heck is wrong with those guys!
And what about Liam? I just hope he has a good time. If he plays like his uncles did, it should be an entertaining road ahead of us! He definitely has the energy level and the enthusiasm, but I haven’t actually seen him catch or a hit a ball – he is only four years old! Hell — I’m 56 and can’t catch or hit a ball, so if he only does it once he will be a better athlete than his grandma!
Regardless of how they play, we will be their biggest fans. We will be on the sidelines yelling words of encouragement, clapping when they go around the bases in the right direction and laughing when they don’t, keeping them focused so they don’t get hit in the head with a baseball and congratulating them on a job well done at the end of the game.
So – let the season begin!