Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame...

This is the story of how one sports averse mom, who literally cringed every single time her daughter was up to bat last year, became this happy, overjoyed, excited person every single time her daughter was up to bat this year.

I never played any kind of sport as a kid. I was the girl who hated gym class, I was the girl who ran with my arms out, fluttering like a bird, I was a big time nerd with her face in a book and who took nine years of piano lessons.

I had no idea what I was missing.

Betsy is the opposite of me in just about every way, so of course she is very athletic. And not just athletic, but confident in her abilities. She walks up, gets into her stance, and wacks that ball. She only struck out less than a handful of times all season. She runs hard and fast and beats the ball to the base. I am amazed by her.

But this blog is not just about that. Because of course I'm amazed by my daughter. I would be amazed by her if she struck out every time. Because I love her.

But this blog is about all of the other people that I have met on this journey into kids sports teams.

I was so nervous at the beginning of our season. Our team from last year was a young team, so naturally I assumed that we would be on a team with at least some of the same players. But when the teams were announced, there was *no one* on our team from last year. The other New Concord team was our entire team from last year, most of whom are very good friends with Betsy. And our team was again the young team. We only had 3 players who had played last year, with Betsy being one of them.

I was depressed. And I'm not kidding. I felt like I had made friends with the other players and their parents last year. I couldn't believe that we didn't have one player who was the same as last year. I moped around and talked about taking her out. After a weekend of this, Nick informed me that I was going to stop, that Betsy loves softball and that I was being ridiculous.

And so, our season began. Our team was trying hard, but our first couple of games were routs. The only bright spot was in Betsy's hitting, which had significantly improved from last year. Fielding, however, seemed an impossible dream. And both of these losses were to our old team. It was difficult for Betsy to play against so many of her friends, and I again questioned if this was a good idea.

By our third game, though, the girls were into a groove. They started playing as a team. They started really learning how to field the ball.

This is all thanks to our coach, Herb Fields. He continued to work with these girls *the entire season.* This, I have found, is somewhat rare. He moved them around at every game. They all learned to play numerous positions. He taught them to slide. He allowed them to chant and cheer for each other, but never against the other team. He prayed with them before the games.

By the end of the season, we were playing well. I had made new friends among the parents of the kids on this team, and no longer felt left behind by my old friends. And I was witness to some amazing sportsmanship. At one of our last games, the little girl who was playing first base was trying to get Betsy out and Betsy was running hard to beat her to it. The ump called Betsy safe, and this little girl turned and said, "Good job, Betsy." I was stunned. I still am. To be trying to get her out and still tell her good job.

For the tournament, we had to play our old team twice. And-to the amazement of everyone-we beat them twice. But those little girls were the epitome of sportsmanship. Betsy had a pool party right after their second loss, and she not only spent the entire time with those old teammates, playing, but they told her good game and good luck in the final game of the tournament.

I will carry those girls and that wonderful attitude in my heart for years to come as I watch them grow into the athletes that they will become. There is one team in particular that we play that has coaches that are cruel. They berate their girls, and they are nasty to the teams that they are playing against. I wish that they could be witness to our New Concord girls, to see how they played hard against each other, and then set it to the side and congratulated each other.

It is just one more reason that I am gratful to live where I do, to be surrounded by the people that we are blessed to have gotten to know (on both teams). It is one more opportunity for God to let me know that the is a plan to everything, that I don't need to wig out and worry that Betsy will have to endure a hardship. Because everything-everything-is an opportunity for her to learn something, for me to learn something. Sometimes it's something great and sometimes it's something hard. But it is ultimately something to make us better people.

This time it was smiling 8 year old girls, swimming together and wishing each other good luck.