THE MONTHLY ADVANCE
9362 W. Overland Rd., Boise, Idaho 83709 May 2018
In an instant, he was surrounded by a flock of moms. Scotty was okay physically but definitely shaken up — and so was I. It took him a while to regain his senses, but once he settled down, I asked him if he wanted to hit. “No, I want to go home,” he stated emphatically. It seemed like that one fly ball would be Scotty’s whole baseball career.
“But hitting is a lot of fun!” one of the moms chimed in.
“Yeah, remember how much fun we’ve had swinging the bat at home?” I added.
Scotty, much to my amazement, took his turn at the plate, and even got a few good cuts in. After the tryout, he was picked up by a minor league team. The coach that year was incredible, keeping an eye on Scotty and making him feel good about himself at every turn. It was amazing to see him giving it his all and having a lot of fun as a result. As the first poem above states, “What counts is trying,” and that’s exactly what Scotty did. I can still recall the pride I felt over the course of that season. Sports teach you that the world doesn’t revolve around your wants or needs. That’s as true for the parents in the stands as it is for the kids on the field. Sports teach teamwork, dedication, and responsibility if you approach them with the right mindset. Here’s where the Kipling poem comes in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents lose their heads in the stands of Little League games, yelling at the umpire and bad-mouthing coaches. I get that, in the heat of the moment, you can get caught up, but I truly can’t believe some of the stuff I see. I wish all parents could read Kipling’s “If” and remember that the lessons you take from sports matter a lot more than what’s on the scoreboard.
BASEBALL AND FATHERHOOD WHAT I LEARNED FROM LITTLE LEAGUE
“Play to win. Sure. But lose like a champion. Because it’s not winning that counts. What counts is trying.” –Author Unknown
Book” author, Rudyard Kipling — but the messages they express are harmonious. I also think they are very relevant to young athletes and their parents. Little League season is in full effect, which reminds me of what it was like to see my son, Scotty, play sports when he was a kid. As I’ve mentioned before, Scotty has Tourette’s syndrome, so the odds were stacked against him to play Little League. From an early age, we encouraged Scott to channel his abundant energy into sports. He’d play golf, basketball, and catch, but never in an organized setting. It wasn’t until he was 11 that we felt confident enough to let him try out for a baseball team. On the day of his tryout, I was in the stands with a video camera in my hands. The first part of the tryout was fly ball practice. “Oh,” I said to the woman sitting next to me, “this is going to be interesting.” Scotty’s turn came, a coach took a swing, and the ball went soaring into the air. It felt like time slowed down as I watched Scotty track the ball. He got under it, held up his glove and … SMACK. The ball hit Scotty square in the head.
“If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you … Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
–Rudyard Kipling, “If ”
I wanted to include excerpts from these two great poems because they bring thoughts of baseball flooding to my mind. That may seem like a strange connection, but bear with me, and I think it will make sense by the end of this article. They come from very different sources — I found the first in legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s book “Wooden,” and the second is a classic from “Jungle
Al Jones , PT, OCS, Cert. MDT
Advance: To move forward; to make progress; to move ahead.
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