Many lessons learned from youth sports
A co- worker said to me the other day that he was coaching his sons’ youth league all- star teams. I had to double-check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t coming up on July Fourth weekend. Nope, just the middle of May when he’d said it.
I’ve always tried to avoid being the guy that screams “You kids get off my lawn,” but yikes, when did they hold the “regular” season? Over the Christmas holiday?
So much has changed since my kids, who are in their middle 20s, played sports, and to be honest, I don’t miss a lot of it. It was fun having something to look forward to, and even more fun watching them compete, have fun and do well, but the adults, and I was probably one of them at times, have sure messed things up.
My son was fortunate enough to play baseball at Dupont-Rivermont growing up and, for most of it, the league played under Dixie Youth rules. It was about the kids having fun, and guys like league president Donnie Davidson made sure of it. It truly was a wonderful time.
I will forever remember my son’s team full of 5-yearolds fighting over a ball hit to center field (seriously, all 12 kids formed a scrum trying to get the ball while the batter raced around the bases) and watching Coach Bobby Stokes roll his head back in laughter. That was the right attitude, and while I didn’t always live by it as a coach myself, I tried to never forget it.
At age 12, everything changed and suddenly it was all about travel ball and college scholarships. I’m not sure anyone actually said the words, “Your child has to play travel soccer or baseball to get a college scholarship,” but that’s what everyone suddenly believed.
We jumped on the bandwagon for the next 10 years. Most of it was a lot of fun, because with a few exceptions, the kids managed to land on good teams with competitive players, good coaches and fun parents to be around.
Neither got that magical athletic scholarship. Not to imply at all that such offers existed, but at some point in their high- school careers t hey decided to pursue other things in life. Such as a life that didn’t involve ballfields, hotels and chain restaurants.
The thing I most appreciate about all that travel, as well as money and time spent on sports, was that they both learned to handle their own business. They learned to speak to the coach directly if they had a problem. They learned to pack their own equipment bags and they learned to basically deal with it. That made it all worth it.