This spring allowed me, for the first time, to help coach Ethan’s t-ball team. I couldn’t have enjoyed the experience any more than I did.
The enjoyment didn’t necessarily come from coaching my son. It came from coaching a group of kids who all wanted to have fun. It’s no easy task to get 10 4/5/6 year-olds to pay attention for 60 consecutive minutes. Many of the kids would mentally check out while they were in the field. The fun part was trying to walk around the infield and spend a little time with each child, reminding them to pay attention and what to do if the ball came to them.
All of the kids always enjoy hitting the ball, but each does that with varying degrees of success as well. The important point that we stressed to each was that the goal of our time together was for them to have FUN. We didn’t keep score, we didn’t track batting averages, we didn’t count errors. We kept track of everyone’s hat and glove, we tracked who kept smiling, we counted laughter.
Not one time in the entire course of our “season” did one of the kids ask what the score was. The kids certainly got a little rowdy at times and we had to reel them back in, but everyone had a good time and hopefully learned a little bit about baseball and a lot about being a friend.
I will certainly continue to coach as Ethan and Ben grow up, however, at this point I’m not sure how long that will continue. It will only be a few years until the carefree nature of it all goes away and the competitiveness kicks in. It’s not that I’m not equipped to coach at that level and not even that I don’t want to coach kids at that level, I think it is more the parents. I’m not sure that I want to listen to parents complaining that their 10-year-old should be playing more or, worse, that some other 10-year-old isn’t good enough to play. I want to protect my kids from that reality for as long as I can, even with the knowledge that their exposure to it is a certainty rather than just a possibility.