Growing up in a very small town in Colorado, the opportunities for us to participate in organized sports were minimal at best. We had Little League sponsored t-ball that started after first grade (age 7-9) and fast pitch (age 10-12). We played ten games a year, and traveled up to about an hour away for a few of the games. Our school district sponsored a pee wee basketball league for 4th - 6th graders. We played only the teams within our own school district. Finally, the sport we all waited for, organized football, started for us when we were in 7th grade. As kids we felt like we were getting the short end of the stick; that there were kids out there in bigger towns and cities that had way more opportunities than we did and that we were somehow missing out. Looking back, I'm glad things worked the way they did. We stayed plenty busy as kids, and we were all hungry for any opportunity we got. We had great participation rates all the way through high school, and most of us played at least two, if not three sports. It was a great experience, one I'm very thankful for.
I say all this to lead up to Frances' first t-ball game. I've been very conscious of not wanting to push her and Nora into too many activities of any kind, let alone too many organized sports. Up to this point their two big activities have been gymnastics one day a week, and starting this summer we've done horseback riding one day a week. That seemed to be plenty enough for them, but when Frances heard about t-ball this summer, she got very excited. I was a little leery, but as I looked at the schedule for the league it was one hour, one night a week for five weeks. This we could handle.
Two weeks ago we went to our first practice, and this past Sunday night she had her first game. It was very low-key, with Mom's and Dad's standing behind and beside their children, helping "coach" them all along the way. Frances took her spot at second base feeling very nervouscited (her word), but she did great. She ended up fielding several balls in the first inning, even throwing out a couple kids (though in this league everybody is safe). Overall, she left the evening very excited about t-ball, and with a realistic sense of where she fit in with the rest of the group (not as good as some, better than others). She's definitely looking forward to the next three weeks.
|Celebrating With Her Biggest Fan|
The old-school part in me fears that this type of setup for t-ball is just another step backwards in the "participation ribbon" attitude of our culture, but the father and the coach in me thinks it was a great deal. Most of the kids in the league are of the same mindset as Frances. They've been exposed to sports their whole life, but they're not as die-hard as some others. Most are at an age where they could likely go either way with organized sports. If they all had the experience Frances did Sunday night, I guarantee they'll want to come back for more next year, and that's all we can ask. For my part, I hope both Frances and Nora will find one or two sports they can engage with, while also pursuing their interests in music or dance or horseback riding or any of a number of other activities. Again, as a dad and as a coach, I can't wait to see what they do next!