My 7-year old son James decided this past year that he wanted to play baseball. This is quite surprising, since we haven’t really pushed sports much in our family.
It’s probably because my husband and I never played sports growing up. We also don’t watch sports. Like, at all. I would say we at least watch the Superbowl, but that’s not true since all I really watch are the commercials. We don’t attend sporting events, except for an occasional trip to the Bowie Baysox because of their fun kid activities. Honestly, I know very little about sports. And I’m okay with that.
Despite my lack of interest, I wanted my children to be exposed to different sports. I think it’s a great way to learn about teamwork, leadership, patience, grace, perseverance, physical health and lots more. So last summer we sent the boys to a camp that featured a different sport each day. They had a lot of fun and got a great introduction into sports. After that, our youngest son Luke started these Ninja classes which combine martial arts, gymnastics, and parkour. He absolutely loves it, and is great at it, so he wasn’t interested in doing another sport. Our oldest son James, on the other hand, took a baseball class over the winter where he learned all aspects of the sport and really got into it. I was amazed to see how good he was at pitching, catching and hitting the ball. Goodness knows he didn’t get those skills from his parents! I even learned a lot myself about baseball just by watching. At home we would practice in the backyard. James tends to be very competitive and a perfectionist, so he would get frustrated quickly if he didn’t immediately hit the ball, or if he missed catching it. But we both learned a lot about patience and kept at it.
When his classes were over, the coach told my husband and I that James was a natural and should sign-up for Coach Pitch. James was so excited to join a team! I looked around for leagues. There were a couple different options, but I found a local community league just up the road from us. One of James’ classmates was going to be on the team also and had done t-ball there the previous year. The mom assured me it was a great first baseball experience, very relaxed and laid back.
James was literally counting down the months, weeks, and then days until practice started. I on the other hand waited till the last minute to get what he needed for practice. Thanks to a tip from another mom, I scored a pair of kids cleats at Dick’s Sporting Goods on sale for fifteen dollars and some knee-high sport socks. The day of his first practice finally arrived and James came bounding home after school ready to play some ball. After a rushed dinner, we piled our three kids into the car and headed up the road to the field. It was fun to watch the excitement in James’ face as he ran out onto the baseball diamond for the first time.
The rest of us spread out a blanket on the rickety, falling apart metal bleachers and waited for practice to begin. After a while it was realized that the coach in charge wasn’t coming due to a family emergency. So, in true ‘it takes a village’ fashion, a couple of the dads stepped up and led the practice. They didn’t have any bases, and only one helmet and bat to share, but they made it work. My friend had been right, it was gloriously laid back, yet the kids were still getting some great practice and tips. Despite the frigid Spring temperatures that night, my heart warmed to see these dads helping with their sons and the other boys. Sure, it was a little chaotic, and my heart skipped a beat when the kids were all throwing balls to each-other without looking, but miraculously everyone walked away injury free and excited for the next practice.
It’s going to be a fun season, and I might even become a sports fan after all!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter.