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Lessons of softball
Lessons of softball
One of the things I've done that really stands out in my life was coaching a girls softball team. The kids were from broken homes, and a bunch were on probation. Gang kids.
Got into it by accident. Was their fund raising committee chairman, and when one of the coaches got permanently banned for bad behaviour I was the only rostered person around (meaning had background check etc) so I ended up with the team. Knew absolutely nothing about softball (was always the kid that never got picked for teams).
Anyway, the program was really about building self esteem in kids. One of the rules of the program was the kids were never to be criticised.
The first few weeks were rugged....the kids were tough..and didn't want to pratice or anything. Also, our league had never won any games in 22 years.
After a while the kids started seeing that maybe this could be fun.
A major goal was to do a double play. Think about that play...ball hit to short stop, short stop pivots and throws to a space left of second base, the second baseman has to react instantly on the hit and move to the spot where the ball is going to be thrown, then the second baseman pivots and throws down to first and the first baseman has to be ready for the catch and tag.
Initially the short stop would throw the ball to second and it would end up in right field.
After a lot of practice, the kids got the idea of reacting without thinking, getting into position. So, in practice, they started doing pretty good. Then they tried it is a game and the ball went to right field.
One game, they nailed it and as the umps were calling the outs the kids looked at each other, stood up taller, and walked back to the dugout doing no look throws... They realized they could trust each other and do something they never dreamed possible.
I had a fat kid about 5 foot 250 pounds. She'd stand at the plate and take strikes because she didn't think she could make it to first base. She ran really slow.
The first baseman would stand on the base waiting for her to run. Explained to her the rules were the first baseman could not stand on the base, so if she could get a hit, she was to run down the baseline and run over the first baseman.
She was piseed at the arrogance of the first baseman and finally got a hit and the kids in the dugout started chanting "rhino rhino" as she charged to the base. She ran over the first baseman. The ump ruled she was right and she got the base. She had never in her life believed she could get to first base.
The next time she was at bat she got another hit, and this time the first baseman was freaked, standing off to the side, and she looked for the throw, missed the catch, and Rhino was safe on base. The kid was so proud. I called a steal right then, and she stole second.
The next time she got up to bat (remember...this is a 250 pound kid) she whacked the ball over the fence...and walked the home run with everyone in the stands chanting Rhino.
By the time the season ended, these kids were blowing away everyone in town and we got to go to the national tournament!!!
6/29/2006 9:09 am
I live for those success stories!|
6/29/2006 9:27 am
this is a wonderful story... thanks for sharing!! i'm not sure why, but it made me cry a little.|
6/30/2006 5:48 pm
My happiest days were behind home plate...Yeah I was a Catcher and would have played professional Softball if there had been a league....Ready|