A Love of Softball
In 1996, my oldest daughter was nine years old. She loved baseball and had played girls’ softball the year before. She wanted to play again and was lucky enough to get on a fun team – “The Golden Eagles.” I’m not sure how, but I ended up an Assistant Coach that season. I had played plenty of softball in my day and had the multiple knee surgeries to prove it. The Golden Eagles didn’t have a very good year on the diamond, but they sure had fun. I have always loved coaching – I always learn more than I teach. My first such gig was coaching volleyball when I was about 21 years old.
A Love of Volleyball
There’s just something about teaching a twelve year old how to overhand serve a volleyball or how to change their stance just a bit and swing a little earlier to hit to right field. Good stuff. The great thing know about coaching kids is they want to learn – they want to get better at whatever they are pursuing and they trust you, the adult or coach, to know what it is you are talking about, training them, and/or suggesting they try. If only adults had the same eagerness for improvement.
A Love of Sewing
When I was eight years old, my mom and dad gave me a really cool old sewing machine for Christmas. I had been wanting to learn how to sew and now I had a great opportunity to do so. My mom was and is an incredible seamstress and she was constantly helping me and teaching me – coaching me on how to do such things as read a pattern, hem on a curve, and the easiest way to attach a yoke (has nothing to do with eggs). She knew her stuff and I was thankful.
But like most ungrateful 3rd graders, there came a point when I, the novice, became irritated with my mom’s constant coaching. My wild streak wanted to color outside of the lines, to try new things and I did. Luckily, my mom knew my heart and let me go; she knew I needed to explore the outer limits of my own ability for that is where I not only ventured, but truly learned. A good coach knows when to let the little birds fly.
What Not to Do
And just like every coach, director, or supervisor I ever had, I learned not only how to do things – how to achieve – but I also learned how to not do things – pitfalls and shortfalls to avoid. The finest lessons aren’t always in the right, the best learned are usually in the wrong. What not to do, what not to say, what not to write. These are the hardest of lessons, but they are the lessons that stick. I can just hear my mom saying now, “I bet you won’t do that again,” after I hurried a seam and sewed right through my right index fingernail. She was right; the next time it was my thumb.
Plant your front foot angled slightly toward the pitcher, choke up a wee bit and swing just early enough.
Should be enough for an RBI. And that can win a game.