There’s More Between the Action
We have a consistent group of youthful players now that continue coming back but sometimes only a couple show up. That’s one of the challenges with attempting to build a team from scratch when it stays over 100 degrees outside for days on end. It would simply be easier to remain home in the comfort of the air conditioning. And I completely get it. Yet, from time to time when only a few kids show up, I also enjoy working one on one with the players in order to bolster their skills. This actually puts us at an advantage because during a big team practice, the individual tends to get overlooked and sloppy skills ignored in favor of moving things along. It’s not that I simply ignore these things but as a coach of young men and women who have basically never played baseball before, there is always a precarious balance negotiating between hammering down the basics and allowing them the pure joy of simply having fun playing the game. Too much pressure through serious rigor and a player may choose to remain at home. After all, at this point, we are only attempting to instill a joyous passion for the game and it’s just nice to have them come out. At the same time, it’s not fun to goof around and drop the ball. Sometimes kids want someone to push them to grow and get better. The trick is knowing exactly how far to push them and the moment you need to back off. It’s not like we are an elite travel team or even a program associated with a school. Right now, we are simply learning to enjoy the game and play it consistently. My hope is that they fall in love with it and appreciate me spending time teaching about the game and about a few other principles in life.
What I like is that the natural pauses built into baseball allow for conversation. There are other sports out there that are fun to experience with action that is more consistent. Yet baseball has a natural ebb and flow that capitalizes on moments of reflection and anticipation between plays that could end up with epic repercussions. What I love about baseball is that you just never know what the very next play might bring. A team could be losing with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and then a ball might be booted by the defense, momentum picks up, the pitcher gets flustered, and in the blink of an eye, the batter blasts a walk-off hit that completely changes the outcome and sends the home team celebrating into the night. The atmosphere of baseball is always ripe with the electricity of potential. While it might feel slow to some, if you look a little closer you will always find the action. You discover it in the conversation between the motion.
That’s what I see in these kids. We may not look like much right now with undisciplined swings, awkward throws, embarrassing drops, and comparably insignificant numbers. But pause a moment to consider the deeper meaning between the action. What I think you’ll find is something happening where there was absolutely nothing going on before. A once-dead baseball field is alive. A group of kids is active outside with purpose during the hottest part of the day. The community has taken notice. Sure, you might decide to check it out for yourself and drive by the field to discover only a handful of kids and a few adults on an afternoon of practice. But between the action in the quiet of the pause, I encourage you to listen in to the conversation regarding the reflection of what has already transpired and the anticipation of things to come. It happens on the field. It happens in the homes of these kids. And I’ve started to hear it now around the community.
Baseball is alive in Calvert.
Last week on Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to work individually with a middle school kid named Izzy and a high school track star named Cohan. Both of them have been coming to practice consistently. While Izzy is smaller than the high school boys, at only 12 years old he shows a focus that is uncommon. I can tell him to go work on his fielding skills and he will find a partner and take ground balls endlessly until I tell him to stop. He does not quit. He does not take a break. Izzy is completely focused. And Cohan, while he does not possess the same type of focus as Izzy, has a different type of tenacity. He dreams of bringing baseball back to Calvert in a big way and truly believes that his skills in other sports such as track and basketball will translate to success on the diamond.
Two young men outside on a sweltering summer afternoon. One opportunity to play ball on a field that was built for them. The conversation between the action was revealing.