As you know, we are a big baseball family. Mike and I grew up playing baseball and softball, and we love to watch major league baseball games. When our kids were born, we hoped that they would like baseball like us (you may recall Mike and I even have a joking “arrangement” for choosing their favorite team), but we swore we wouldn’t push them into anything. Happily, Annabel and James both really like watching baseball games, and they love playing catch in our backyard.
Since I spent a very large portion of my childhood playing softball, I was a little hesitant to get Annie involved in local softball too early. I wanted to make sure she WANTED to play, and I also wanted to start her when she was at a physical and emotional age to enjoy it. So even though she’s been asking to start playing the last two years, we finally started her this year. She was so excited picking out a new glove and other equipment! I’ve never seen anyone get so hyped up over a water bottle.
About a month after we signed her up, we received an email asking for parent volunteers for Annie’s team – specifically, a coach/manager. It had never been my intention to be Annie’s coach, but I realized it was something I could probably do (especially with my current employment status), so I volunteered. I figured someone else likely would have stepped up before me, but nope! I am officially the coach of ten girls ages 4-7. Oh, and only two of them had ever played before.
Luckily, I had another dad sign up to be an assistant, and I was able to convince my dad (my own coach from back in the day) to be the other assistant. I LOVE the team. The girls are learning how to do everything, but they are so cute and enthusiastic through it all. They love to give me hugs and hold my hand. It’s so sweet and not at all what I was expecting. Is every practice like herding cats? YEP. But I’ve really enjoyed it.
This last Saturday*, Annie, my dad, and I arrived at the fields bright and early for Opening Day. As we walked to meet the team, Annie said, “I feel like I’m going to watch a game…but I am actually going to be PLAYING! I can’t believe it!” It was so fun watching Annie take in all the festivities. First we had team pictures, and then there was a ceremony where all the teams paraded in front of the crowd. My girls were beaming and skipping around, so happy.
When game time came around, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the girls had worked hard and improved, but…you know. They’re ages four to seven. But they blew me away. Sure, there was some grass picking from the outfielders, and the infielders were REALLY fascinated by the chalk. But they ran after the ball, made their throws, and did a great job at bat. I was so proud of them.
I was especially proud of my Annie. She is the oldest girl on the team and has really embraced it. She led the cheers and gave out lots of high fives. I know what it’s like to be the coach’s daughter, so I have been careful to not only not favor her but to not go too far in the other direction, either. She did amazing on Saturday, making some good plays at first base and also getting two hits off of the pitching machine.
After the game, Annie said, “Today was my dream come true! I’m gonna play for the Dodgers someday!”
It’s been such a great experience coaching the girls, but seeing Annie love the sport that her dad and I enjoy so much has been something else. I am so glad I can share this with her.
*Yes, I coached the game with my concussion, but then I immediately went home and rested for the rest of the weekend!!