The Human Side of Girls Softball

kennedyA few days ago, we had a coach write in to us, torn about the fact that one of his players failed a drug test at her school and was removed from the softball team. Should he do the same thing, and remove this girl – one who had been playing with him for three years and who has little parental involvement, from his high school aged team too?

As we posted the question to the audience, we waited with both heavy hearts and anticipation that the human side of girls softball would show its beautiful face, like a ray of sunshine sent on the cloudiest of days. Would anyone stand up for ‘this’ kid.  This kid – who could be your kid, or a kid on your team one day?

How would people react?  What would the consensus be? What would the advice be to this particular coach, who felt pressured from both sides of the issues. Certainly some of the parents on his team asserted upon hearing the news of the failed drug test, “I don’t want my daughter around THAT girl,” while others believed in second chances.

The same was true from our audience response. Some folks thought this young teenager needed to be taught a tough lesson filled with consequence, while others felt that removing her from the team would only push her down the wrong road further. Some believed that she would be a bad influence on ‘their’ kids and immediately condemned or judged, while others advised a sit down ‘come to Jesus’ meeting – for the coach who obviously cared about this girl beyond the field, to step in and BE a parent to his player as well as a coach.

Haven’t WE ALL MADE MISTAKES?

Until you actually HAVE teenagers (or your kids play on a TEENAGE HIGH SCHOOL AGED TEAM, its easy to say what you will or won’t do. Things change quickly in this age group. Your 8 or 10 and 12 year olds are EASY PEASY compared to the girls 15 – 18 who play. Ask any coach who coaches them.

And, the funny thing about teenagers is that no matter how well you teach them right from wrong – they are still going to sway into the wrong from time to time. That’s life. That’s why they have adults around, parental and otherwise, to make up the metaphorical village.

Some girls get led easier, some girls have fewer boundaries or limitations at home which makes it easier for them to make a mistake. One day, this girl – not matter how stellar of a parent you are – could be YOUR daughter.  Then what?

Would you want her removed from the game she loved, only to have even more free time to get into trouble, or would you do your best to keep her clinging to the positive things in her life?

Fastpitch softball, amid all the frustrations and sometimes hassles is A POSITIVE INFLUENCE IN A GIRLS LIFE! 

Fastpitch softball isn’t just for ‘GOOD’ girls (We hate to talk about children in terms of good or bad), but it can play a part in keeping girls on the right track. Fastpitch softball for some girls can be the ONE THING, the ONE PASSION, the ONE ACTIVITY that can eventually end up saving them.

We will admit that we were saddened by the amount of adults who were just willing to write this girl off.  Even more frustrating was the judgment – and the attitude that keeping our own children away from a ‘perceived bad kid’ somehow keeps our own kids safer. While as parents, we don’t want our children hanging around the wrong group – we certainly cannot keep them in a bubble, and should be at least willing to be compassionate and forgiving towards other people. Especially KIDS!

At some level aren’t we all a little responsible for one another?

Certainly, I don’t believe that lazy, entitled adults who are old enough to know better and do better deserve our sympathy, or understanding – but a teenage girl?  Do we really ‘write’ a kid off because of ONE mistake. Especially in world so full of technology that ONE MISTAKE, whether a picture, a comment, a text, or an occurrence – can make its way around social circles in the blink of an eye? The world we live in enables us to “SEE” more but not necessarily KNOW more.

And apparently a fan of our – who asked to remain anonymous, has something that she wants us to know. Read on…

When I was 17 I got caught smoking marijuana and got kicked off my high school softball team. I was starting to hang around the wrong kids, was getting into trouble, and my grades were dropping. My parents didnt have many rules for me, and my coach KNEW this. Although I thought he was going to kick me off the team, he did the opposite. He pushed me harder.  At practice and games he expected more of me than he did anyone else. On Saturdays, when we didnt have a tournament he would pay me to help him cut the grass at the field, pick up infield rocks and clean the disgusting field bathrooms. He didn’t allow my boyfriend (who was much older than me and part of the problem)  to come to practices or games. When he helped me get a job, he picked me up from work and drove me home at night. If I missed practice, he called, or drove by my house and made me come.

Some days, I really really HATED him.

I used to say, “You are NOT my dad leave me alone.” And yet, he kept on pushing me.  He never judged me for what I did, but was instead just stern and constantly asked me “Was that a good decision?” He was the ONE person that called me out on things. But now, at 27 – having completed college where I played softball for a small local college, I have no one to thank for my life MORE than him. He didn’t give up on me. My ‘walk on the wild side’ was a SHORT 6 month stint where I was just changing from a child to an adult. I wasn’t a BAD KID, I was just making BAD choices. Had it not been for him, my trouble could have – NO, it would have lasted a life time.

Being on the softball team  and having a coach that cared saved me”

The thing about girls softball is that when you sign up – you sign up for so much more than Saturdays at the field. When you coach, or are on a team, they start to feel like family. Just like family, some of them drive you crazy. Some make you mad. Sometimes you wish you could just ‘wash your hands’ of the others. OR SOMETIMES, you get offered a chance to see a problem and be the solution, and save a life just a little.

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