I am Seth’s little league baseball team’s coach this spring…well, actually I am the assistant-to-the-assistant coach! When we signed up to play, I told my friend who is the head coach that IF our sons were on the same team; and IF he was asked to coach; and IF he needed help coaching, I would help him coach. Later, when he called me to help coach, I couldn’t help but laugh because my baseball career ended in the 2nd grade. I didn’t enjoy the sport, and I especially didn’t enjoy playing the game. My teammates always played the positions I wanted. And, the 20 extra coaches in the stands telling me what to do when I thought I only had two coaches on the field drove me crazy! I felt like I was in a pressure cooker with everyone staring and yelling at me – “Swing the bat (why would I NOT swing the bat?)! ”Watch the ball (what else would I look at?)! “Throw the ball in (where else would I throw it?)!” So, I traded in my bat and glove for a tennis racquet and didn’t look back. No teammates. No obnoxious fans. And, the point of the game is easy, right? Be the last person to hit the ball into the court?!
After serving as the assistant-to-the-assistant little league baseball coach for most of one season, I can honestly say I love this sport! Seth has a blast, and I have a blast. Here are four life lessons I have learned that changed my opinion of little league baseball:
- Coaches can make a positive influence in a child’s life. Heck, they can change a kid’s life! I’ve seen this through my friend as he builds self-confidence into each player.
- Coaches have a unique opportunity to serve each family that no one else on or off the field can do. If you serve my child, you have my attention. I’ve seen my friend serve an entire family by helping meet the need of one player.
- Seth is learning about humility by sitting out of the game so that others can also play. I remember riding the bench as a kid, and I hated it. I thought it was like being sent to timeout for a crime I didn’t even know about! We’ve been talking about humility at church this month and defined it as “putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve.” Humility is a tough virtue to learn early in life, but it is critically needed as leader later in life.
- Seth is also learning to see the big picture beyond his chance at bat. We play some talented teams who can field the ball really well. If he hits a ground ball to the infield, he is most likely thrown out at first base. But, many times he advances a runner one base…possibly even driving home a runner. So, while Seth doesn’t always get on base, he helps his team score. Getting thrown out at first is no fun, but helping win the game makes a bigger difference.
I am still a tennis player at heart. I don’t own a pair of cleats. I had to borrow a glove. But, I treasure the times spent throwing with and pitching to Seth and his friends. I also enjoy watching him play and enjoy life. I also love learning life lessons along the way with him. Maybe these lessons can help you the next time you are on a team. And, if you have the chance to help coach a little league team, do it! This assistant-to-the-assistant coach sure is glad he signed up to help!
Question: What have you learned from little league sports? I look forward to hearing from you!