On any given day, SIFG receives an overwhelming amount of emails with fan questions, fan-shares and other awesome things related to softball! We love them – so keep them coming. We typically post them to the group and let the community, with all their knowledge and experience give a multitude of answers, which in turn helps everyone.
Recently, we received a fan question, that we feel compelled to answer. Simply because, while it may be different words or the small details may vary, the overall situation of feeling frustrated/angry/concerned/slighted or feeling like our child is ‘suffering’ is the undertone to the vast majority of our fan questions.
Justifiably so- because we all LOVE our babies – and their ‘pain’ becomes ours.
So here’s the question….
Feeling frustrated. Any words of wisdom would help. My daughter is playing on an instructional minors little league team. She is 8 and has asthma and doesn’t run as fast and carries a couple extra pounds. She’s a bit of a whiner, but her heart WAS in the game until tonight. She asked her coach, with two games left of the regular season, when she would get the opportunity to pitch. The coach asked if she had been practicing a lot, and she was honest and told coach no, coach responded “only the girls who practice get to pitch” and walked away. It’s not my daughters fault that my husband and I work long hours and just over an hour daily commute on top of that, there’s not much time left at the end of the day. She cried on the way home and said she doesn’t want to play next year, it broke my heart that her coach broke her spirit today.
Now before you read any further – know that A) we are not picking on this particular fan or question. B) We intend to give you a non-politically correct answer from ALL SIDES that may upset you or seem indifferent and C) We have personally and we mean personally with our own kids rode home with them bawling in the car about something that happened during a game – just like you have probably personally been in this situation – so we can absolutely relate.
The general undertone of this question is one of the things that we feel is wrong with youth sports today, which is why we chose to write about it. And keep in mind, that when we receive and post fan questions – the reality is that there are a lot of facts and factors that we do not know.
First the cushy and comfortable and common answer (the one that makes everyone happy and is absolutely politically correct)….
“That’s terrible! You’re poor daughter. Yes, the coach should have at least given her a chance, especially since it is an instructional league and she is so young and trying to learn the sport. It’s terrible to see a coach break a child’s spirit like that. He should be ashamed of himself! If he is volunteering to instruct girls, then he should be giving all of them a chance, no matter what the circumstances. Sounds like he may be playing favorites or running a ‘Daddy-ball” team. You need to find another coach and team that will accept your daughter and give her her fair shot. Sending her prayers that she will recover and continue playing this game she loves”
And now the answer nobody wants to hear!
“Wow. What an unfortunate situation. We hate to see a child whose feelings are hurt. The good news is this is a wonderful teachable moment for your daughter! While it is not your daughters fault that she doesn’t have anyone who can work with her, it is not the coaches fault or the other players on the teams fault, either. Imagine how you would feel if your daughter was working her butt off, and the coach suddenly utilized a player who wasn’t, in her place?
However, truth be told, from a coaches and TEAM standpoint, it is also not fair to the girls that ARE practicing and working hard to put your daughter in to pitch OVER them, when they have been working harder, just because she WANTS to! After all, none of us get what we want in life all the time. This would send the wrong message to these young athletes. It would also tell your daughter that she can get what she wants just because she whines or asks without putting in the work, and it tells her teammates that despite their efforts they will not be rewarded with pitching time. Things like this can greatly affect team chemistry and dynamics.
We would explain to your daughter that this just means she has to work a little harder to get what she wants!! That may mean asking a coach to stay late to help her learn to pitch, or asking a teammate to help, or finding time for pitching lessons during the off season or on weekends. The good news is, that she is only 8, so this one ‘NO,’ does not mean she will be facing a lifetime of NO’s – especially if she really wants to pitch and is willing to put in the work. The competition will only get harder as she gets older, so NOW is the perfect time to instill the value of working harder for what she wants on the field and in life!
As for broken spirits, we have found that kids are very resilient. More so than we realize and they often pick up on the fact that WE are upset about a situation which makes things worse!
And the less of a big deal YOU make about this, and the more you EMPOWER her with a solution, the better she will be able to cope with disappointment in life in general. There is a big difference between being disappointed with something, and having your spirit broken. I am pretty sure that a coach volunteering his or her time to coach an instructional league is not out to intentionally break a child’s spirit – but softball is a team sport and he/she does have multiple other players to consider as well.
At times when our kids are upset it pains us as parents, and it is easy to indulge in their pain because we hate to see them that way and we love them – but the reality is it is our job to stay compassionate – yet hand over some of the responsibility to our kiddos so they understand and are EMPOWERED with the ability to solve these problems on their own (with our guidance). These are the perfect moments to teach valuable life lessons to our kids.
Allowing her to quit would definitely not be a good idea. If she loves the game, and it sounds like she does – then teaching her how to be resilient, and teaching her that no one person is in charge of her happiness, and no one but HER can decide what she can and cannot do in life will definitely make her a stronger person in the long run. After all, disappointment in life is everywhere…she cannot quit everything just because one thing didn’t go her way.
As for the asthma and extra weight – it sounds like exercise and participating in sports may be just what she needs. Walking during the off season will help improve her stamina and speed. There are lots of kids with medical conditions playing softball (one of our very own daughters is Type 1), and it is a fabulous way for them to ensure that they do not let anything hold them back!
We wish her the best of luck!”
And there it is…..