One Important TAKE AWAY from HIGH SCHOOL Ball | Softball is For Girls
We live in a world now, our kids are growing up in a world – where we have too many choices…
This week, as my daughters High School softball team travels to their state tournament (Georgia plays Fall softball), a lot of things have been crossing my mind about the ‘state’ of travel ball and the affect it has on our kids as athletes preparing to take their game to the next level.
One of the things that I firmly believe is lacking in our young athletes sports programs is accountability and an end goal that is bigger than self.
We get that parents and children have the ‘end goal’ to play in college, or go to the Sparkler, or win the big tournament next Saturday and take home the hardware. But travel sports don’t really have accountability or a real end goal anymore. There is always a second chance. A third, a fourth. A fifth.
Travel teams, even elite teams have several chances to earn berths. And then if they still don’t make it, they have a few more chances and then with the power of the almighty dollar comes another chance to get their team or organization to the event they want to be at.
Most travel softball players play weekend to weekend… They might win the whole tournament this Saturday and then lose the next two before coming in second just a few weeks later.
If a travel softball player, or softball parent are unhappy on their travel team, be it due to politics or playing time, or feeling hurt over something, they can just switch. No big deal. There are thousands upon thousands of teams out there today scrapping for players. Unhappy, move on, right? Choose the team that gets you what you want, right? That’s what is important. YOUR players feelings.
And that’s where we get to High School sports.
Very often undermined, and often disliked, and much complained about in athletic circles. And we have to wonder if some of the complaining, and some of the disgruntlement is simply because we don’t have the chance to ‘choose our destination”
We aren’t used to NOT being able to just ‘get our way’ or ‘move on’ when the whimsy or whiny hits or the emotions run too high.
You are stuck with the team (players parents coaches) you got whether its high school baseball, softball, football, volleyball It is what it is. We won’t discount that there are politics and all sorts of garbage that make parents crazy that goes on in these sports too. But just like in adulthood and life, you have to learn HOW to deal with these things.
But all in all – the ultimate goal (which there always is one) is completely different. Players are extremely accountable. Everything matters. Every. Little. Thing.
You can’t just lose one or two tournaments or throw a few games and be a region champion or get to go to the ultimate arena which is the state championship tournament. It all matters.
You have to FINISH the job!
Each game the players are accountable, because what they do (or don’t do) regulates the next step in the season. There is no starting over. No berth. You aren’t going to win a region or state title because your school has more money than another. It has to be earned from start….to the very long down the road finish.
And this is where it gets sketchy again. I love our little High School team, and I have been able to witness the process that is involved in going to a State Championship this year for the first time.
The Elite 8, from every region make it to State. It’s an honor. But it is a process, that is unlike what the kids go through in travel ball. And its exactly what the players in the college world series go through, or professional athletes go through. And our athletes these days…well to be frank, they just aren’t mentally or physically prepared because ‘most’ of them are never pushed to this point. Never pushed passed the breaking point, where it all comes back together for them and leaves them with something to be so proud of, and feeling accomplished, and proving to themselves that YES, they DO HAVE MORE TO GIVE, and they are STRONG!
You have to FINISH. Even and especially when you are tired and weary. When you have been playing for MONTHS, and there is drama, and your body is exhausted and players, parents and coaches feel like they are drowning under the water because they have all been going so long – you have to find the inner strength, the inner drive, the inner ‘something’ to FINISH. The athletes that CAN do this…they are truly the ones that are prepared to play at the collegiate level.
You have to dig deep.
Want it more.
Be willing to sacrifice more.
Overlook the things you can’t control.
Control the things you can.
Stay accountable to the 8 other girls on the field with you, knowing that what YOU DO MATTERS. A LOT!
Because there are no second chances. Suddenly, at the end of the season – you realize that the game you played 7 weeks ago, where you were just in a bad place, and did a half ass job – it matters in the scheme of the bigger picture. It matters in how you are seeded, who you will play, how you rank.
Its a very long, stressful albeit BEAUTIFUL process – that I have been blessed to see firsthand this high school season, and that the ALL THE PLAYERS making it to their state tournaments are blessed to be a part of.
It challenges the players (and coaches) to find something new, find something different. The old ways, what we are used to doing 80% of the time on our travel teams – it doesn’t work out here.
So it challenges everyone to be flexible, and strong minded, and willing to sacrifice, and understanding the very definitions of accountability and responsibility. Because suddenly you have no choices but to find a way to be more excellent – fundamentally, physically and mostly MENTALLY than you ever were before.
And what a GIFT that is to the girls who get to participate in this experience.
We are wishing the best of LUCK to all the kids participating in their State Championships this FALL!