Today marked our first official softball practice. I drafted the team this year so I have a pretty good grasp of the personalities on the team. For 3rd and 4th graders it is essential that you have coachable girls. I could care less if we lose every game. If the girls are interested and focused they will get better. And, I hope, they will have fun along the way. Last year was an eye opener when we moved our daughter up, playing a 2nd grader in the 3rd/4th grade league. I took a passive role and watched as she became more and more disinterested due to a coach that put too much emphasis on wins and losses. Should we really be teaching girls to not swing in order to get walks??? Of course not. I will not fall into that trap this year. These girls will learn where the play is. They will learn to throw the ball properly. They will learn wear catch the ball with the glove facing upward. If time permits we can get into the proper ways to chastize an ump, spit correctly and chest bump. I may allow for some bench cheers, but that is debatable. Cheering is for cheerleaders. If you are playing softball I really have no patience for the annoying cheers. There is nothing worse than watching the college softball World Series and hearing 20 somethings cheer from the dugout. Just thinking about it made me throw up in my mouth a bit.
The real test will be co-coaching with a wife who could is straddling the line between loving and hating me. Let's say all is well and there is a close play at the plate. Perhaps our girl is thrown out due to me sending her home from 3rd. That might be grounds for divorce. Maybe I leave a girl in too long on the mound and the next batter hits a game winning home run, Divorce. Maybe I forget the post game donuts. You guessed it. Divorce.
I suppose it could go the other way. Every game is a picture of Rockwellian beauty. Grandparents holding American flags in ragged lawn chairs. Younger siblings having a catch with their dads as they follow the action. The mrs and I hand and hand as we write the line-up card, teach the grand game, and bask in the sunshine. Watching, ever so closely, as our prized pedigree pitches and hits our team to glory.
More realistically it promises to be somewhere in between. Daughter will more than likely rebel at times. You hated having one parent coach you, right? Try two!!! And two parents on the precipice of utter disaster for that matter. She is full of talent though. So I am sure we push her harder than others. That being said, she will have plenty of success. There will certainly be times we scratch our heads. The two times we play our coach from last year should be enlightening. At the draft we laid the ground rules for the upcoming season. We decided each game would have a gentlemen's agreement prior to first pitch. He was one to have girls circle the bases until the pitcher got the ball back. Now, this is 3rd and 4th grade softball. If a ball goes awry in the infield it could take several throws and minutes to harness that ball in the pitchers circle. This is instructional ball. My opinion was work more on fundamentals than embarassing others. Shit, if a girl was on 3rd base and the pitcher had the ball at the mound, 9 out of 10 times she could run home and score safely. Rarer than exposed skin on a Muslim woman to complete a successful throw, catch and tag. I am sure when I tell him there will be 1 base only on overthrows it will be met with resistance. I will remain positive for now. The kids seem great. No one was hurt today. Nobody cried. And for a moment it felt like spring was near.
So, we hope to teach the right way and the wrong way. All the while trying to live our own lives without damaging those in and around them. Baby steps I keep telling myself. Play ball!!!