Making the Team – School Ball Softball
Here in Georgia, thousands of girls are gearing up for ‘school ball’ tryouts and workouts. Each girl has a dream, to make the coveted school ball team, win over the coach and adorn a jersey in their schools colors. It’s a beautiful dream, one which can motivate the average player to step up her game, which empowers girls to set goals, and which enables parents a wonderful opportunity to teach their daughters VALUABLE life lessons (If parents choose to look at it this way)
Yet instead, it seems that many parents are choosing to become martyrs in their child’s own best interest, whining, perpetuating hate and mis-directing blame in the effort to ‘save’ their daughter from disappointment.
Things are obviously in high gear and emotions are running high – and over at the SOFTBALL IS FOR GIRLS FACEBOOK PAGE, we have fielded 147 questions in JUST the past 2 weeks from parents and players alike that are riddled with worry, stress, frustration, anger and strife over the PERCEIVED ‘politics’ and ‘unfair practices’ involved in the choosing of players.
My daughter didn’t make the team because the middle school coach didn’t like me. My daughter is a better shortstop than so and so, yet because so and so is friends with the coach – she made the team instead. My daughter has no chance of making the team because we don’t have money. There is no sense in my daughter trying out because the team is already set. The coach chose the principals daughter over my kid even though my kid is better. (Sound familiar!?! – UGH)
You get the point – it is the unfortunate chorus that coaches from middle school to college have had to hear sung from the highest mountains since they started their career.
Let’s offer another perspective.
These coaches who run workouts and tryouts and who spend what would be their free time over the summer and after school with YOUR children rather than their own kids are employed to do a JOB!
And their job is a tough one that pays very little and comes with a tumultuous side effect. Imagine everyone in the world wanting to be your friend, wanting to help you out, singing your praises, kissing your butt and pretending to like you UNTIL the day they cut your daughter. Then suddenly this coach becomes a monster, the Abby Lee Miller of softball, and the rumor mill kicks into high gear. The complaining starts. The shining. The accusations. The discord. The ‘blame game’ fueled by anger becomes played in the most malicious of manners, undermining and dis-empowering these girls that quite simply love the brick-dust – often times to the point that the kids give up – and at the expense of a coach who is only attempting to do his or her job in the best way possible. A job.
Ask yourself, would you compromise your job by making poor decisions in order to appease others and silence ALL the squeaky wheels? Is that even possible in today’s world of political correct-ness to the point that we are all fakes?
Imagine if you will, having 30, 40, 50, 60 or even hundreds of girls vying for 9 positions – all with talent and having to selectively narrow down the playing field as part of YOUR JOB! Imagine the nights and hours they likely spend contemplating and calculating what will be the best equation to make their team the most successful – which is essentially THEIR GOAL AND THEIR JOB! Imagine not knowing who to trust, who to choose, which girl, among so many with potential, will work in the complicated equation that makes a team. Imagine for a moment the pressure on these men and women who give much of themselves and their time to make OUR CHILDREN the best they can be.
It is rare (but far too often accused) that any coach in the position of empowering children would use his or her position to demolish self-esteem, or purposely hurt children.
These coaches know that their decisions will make them loved or hated, and they have to live with the reality that there is no way to please everyone. The coaches also know that the politic card, and the anger in the aftermath of their decisions will be directed at them as sharply as one of Katniss’s arrows. And, most importantly – these coaches are human beings. Chances are if they could, they would have 2,3 or even 4 teams just so they could take every one of our girls who share the same passion for the game of softball as they do. And YES – the men and women who coach these teams have passion and lots of it!!! Since that’s not an option in the school ball venue – they can only do the best they can. And yes, oftentimes that means that your daughter and my daughter and so and so’s daughter and your friend’s daughter and the best catcher that ever walked across the foul lines, may be cut in the process.
As parents, we are our children’s biggest fans. Of course we think our daughters are the best. Of course we think our daughter should make the team. That is our JOB. But we cannot be so busy constantly cutting the crust off of their sandwiches and licking their wounds that we take away their motivation to strive harder, push harder, be better, work more and LEARN from the experience of trying out.
Life is full of so-called politics. Life is not always fair and equal. Life is a balance of highs and lows, yes’ and no’s. Life is a competition. If we constantly give our children an ‘out’ or an ‘excuse’ for why they didn’t ‘make the team or succeed in life, then we rob them of motivation and fill them with resentment. What. Good. Does. That. Do?
When we say things in front of our kids such as, “Oh, she only made the team because of x,y and z.” Or, “You didn’t make the team because we don’t have the right last name.” Or, “That girl is a just a butt-kisser with no talent,” or cry “That’s not FAIR,” or start blaming others for our children’s shortcomings we hurt NO ONE but our daughters. If mom and dad have this attitude, why SHOULD our girls even try?
Disappointment is part of life. We at Softball is for Girls, believe that as parents, we have to keep the YES in our kids hearts.
Their lives will be filled with a malady of no’s from college applications, to job interviews to prom dates. They will get turned down for loans, will suffer heart breaks, will have their feelings hurt a zillion times over. Parents should be their child’s shoulder to cry on, but should refrain from manipulating circumstances. How about a “You’ll get it next time,” or “Now we know what to work harder on,” rather than an immediate knee jerk reaction that reduces the coaches integrity and makes ‘excuses.” How about trying to keep our children’s faith in others and themselves alive for as long as possible?
This new age popular charade of giving trophies and participation awards only lasts so long.
At some point, we have to let them grow up – be turned down even for something they have spent years dreaming about, and allow them to take responsibility for themselves and their futures. If we choose to simply blame others or ‘perceived’ extenuating circumstances we do no more than stymie their growth and maturity.
As parents, we should encourage our children to do their best. Give what they have. LEARN. GROW. Keeping them playing the game, and taking the good with the bad – and encouraging them to take the bull by the horns and CREATE their destiny, is the best possible lesson we can teach our children.
Send your daughter to work outs, tryouts, camps – whatever it takes – stay positive, and allow them to learn something valuable from the experience on their own.