I’m running low on things to say in situations where I’m pretty much forced to say something but have nothing to work with. Everyone reading this will know exactly what I mean although many won’t admit to it.
My situation involves baseball. Not major league or little league, but baseball for fourteen year olds. Unfortunately, they are not natural athletes and the scores show it. 22-1, 25-3, 20 -1..ouch.
I’m a sports mom, or at least I was in my past life. My sons ran CC in the Fall, wrestled year round, and pole vaulted in the Spring. At wrestling, they were Champions. I’m not ashamed to brag on it. My younger son was three time Country and Division Champ and went to States a couple times. I was lucky enough to be along for the ride. But at CC and pole vaulting…eh, not so good. So I know the ways to say “good effort”, “way to try” , “stay strong”. I can say those things with motherly love and mean them every time.
Now, we’re talking baseball and a team that’s not so good. They regularly lose and the scores are usually 23+ – 1 or 2 by the time the game is called and it is usually called. “You’ll get them next time” just isn’t cutting it anymore.
My heart goes out to the kids whose seasons don’t involve a trophy or a First Place banner. They’re what sports are all about. They sign up and give their best year after year. I’ve followed this small group of kids for many years now. Not my kiddo but close enough to be my own in a Brady Bunch kind of way. Not gifted athletes, entheusiastic at the beginning of the season, somewhat beaten down by the end. Half the kids they joined t-ball years ago with have moved on and up to better leagues and school teams.
These kids, a Charlie Brown gang, are happy where they are. They play because they love the sport. They rotate positions and know each other well. They probably will not play any more years, the standards go up when you hit HS.
Their parents gamely show up in team colors and cheer. We shake our heads when our boys and girl strike out or miss a pop fly the might’ve gotten caught if it’d only fallen a half a foot to the left.
We cheer on base hits, go nutty over runs, and laugh with the kids when two outfielders run into each other in a Sports Center moment. You should hear us when the pitcher strike out the opposing batters. The noise echos for miles and our smiles stretch just as far.
Sure the other teams are better, the other parents more rabid, the other practices more hard core but I doubt they enjoy every triumph as much. This team has it’s stars but everyone matters and the coaches are there with a back pat or high five when it’s needed and we spectators try to cover the rest. I worry about running out of things to say as the season winds down but writing this now it occurs to me that all I need to say is “good job” and “great effort” and “I’m proud of the way that you tried”. Those are the perfect things to say because baseball is about winning but more than that it’s about loving the game and while these kids may not win on the score board when it comes to loving the game there are no greater Champions anywhere.