OPTM pt MAY 2018

Monthly Little League and Lifelong Lessons

6-Year-Old Owen Takes the F ield

This month, Little League is in full swing, and my 6-year-old, Owen, is enjoying his first organized sport with some of his newest buddies. While he was a little nervous and uncertain at the beginning of the season, my wife and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get him started on some outdoor activities. By now, he’s made some great friends and is starting to really have some fun on the field. Win or lose, he always enjoys the treats the players get at the end of each game. It’s been a great experience from the very beginning. I remember the season’s opening day. We looked around and saw all the excited kids and their parents and families, eager to show their support and get to know one another. I got such a sense of community and of working together toward a common purpose. Before the game started, they brought out a prominent local figure, a guy who has coached baseball for over 30 years. He congratulated the parents on getting their kids into sports early, extolling the virtues of teamwork and cooperation. He told the children, “Someone on your team right now is going to become a lifelong friend.” A few weeks later, I’m thinking he just might have been right. At Owen’s age, it’s not about winning or losing; instead, it’s about gaining a rudimentary understanding of the game and having fun. It’s been pretty amazing to see the kids develop over the season. In the first game, we watched a grounder whizz past the second baseman. The player finally grabbed hold of the ball, not understanding that he needed to touch the base before the runner made it to his spot. Obviously, the sport was brand-new to most of these kids. It was a totally alien concept, so they needed to get a grasp on the rules before they could even begin to communicate as a team. But now, toward the end of the season, Owen and his team are

really coming into their own, making more complex plays and cheering for each other. Cooperation is a vital skill to learn at that young age, and I can see Owen catching on. His overall interest in the game has grown too, and he has even asked to stay after practice to further work on his skills. It’s made us proud to watch Owen take part in the first structured sport of his life. He’s steadily learned the concept of commitment. He knows that he needs to be there for his teammates, whether it’s a chilly evening practice or an early-morning game. And of course, it’s

Owen on the mound

been a great opportunity for us to gather as a family to watch his games, bringing his grandparents along to offer support and encouragement. Owen’s grandpa grew up in a baseball household, with his twin brother moving on to play for the New York Mets, so he’s thrilled to see someone else take the baseball baton in the family. And Jake, our 2-year-old, gets a chance to run around and be exposed to something cool that his older brother is doing. All in all, I’m so happy to watch Owen participate in his first organized team sport. He’s had a blast with his new little cadre of pals, learning values that will stick with him for the rest of his life. As we watch him from the stands, you can bet we’re cheering with everything we’ve got at every opportunity, letting him know just how proud and excited we are as he gives it his best effort. Dr. Fabrice Rockich

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