Stories of Us – Georgia Softball – Part 3
Tryout season…If you ever want to see how downright insane sports parents can be, come watch tryout season in fastpitch softball.
The end of summer every year, brought tryout season, and every summer I was entering the race to find the best of the best, the greenest grass, the most expensive showcase opportunity team my mama could find.
To put it in perspective, imagine having a job you love YET every year, you have to start all over, and go to umpteen million interviews that were set up for you…Downright shitty.
I have sat around the bleachers long enough to know that softball moms and dads, are constantly trying to one up eachother. “Well my daughter has such and such softball bat, and the coach of such and such team said she could start…blah blah blah…” Meanwhile, us girls just hung out together doing girl things and playing ball. But you learn to put up some fences early, and to not get too close to anyone, because things could change in a moment, and after one too many ‘breakups’ and lost friends – it is much easier to be just be cautious and somewhat detached.
In the beginning, I would beg and plead to stay with my friends, cry, and carry on. But as I got older, it was just easier to try not to get too close. Most of us felt that way, we loved each-other and enjoyed playing together – but we knew that at anytime any one of us could be shipped off.
The same was true for coaches.
When I turned 14, after a bunch of tryouts – which included hours of learning how to ass-kiss, and being ‘coached’ on how to look eager, and excited, and how to be verbal on the field etc. And look, if you sit in the car on the way to a tryout and tell your daughter what she needs to do to be noticed, to stand out – I get it…. but the truth is that those who out hustle and outwork – they do it naturally. If your kid is out there pretending to be something they are not because you coached them to do it, you are doing them a huge disservice. The veil will lift eventually, and good coaches…really good coaches…they can see which girls have brick dust permanently embedded under their fingernails.
I cant tell you how many times I wanted to tell my parents to STFU…I was trained, I knew what to do. And honestly, I enjoyed the game, I hustled because I wanted to win, I was always coachable and eager, and it would have been nice to just once…be trusted that my personality, skills, and true self would land me a position rather than some blown up, fake, schmoozing version…
At 13, I finally had found MY SOFTBALL TEAM…14U was gonna be good. Oh my GAWD, it was glorious. We were awesome. The coach was great, the assistant coaches were AMAZING, and fair, and pushed us. We got along. We all had that burning desire to win…It was so good, that anytime off we had we were hanging out. I was happy with a capital H.
I made it an entire year (a YEAR…365 days….31 tournaments) – without much drama from my mom. Sure she got pissed if we lost a game, or if I struck out, or if I had a bad day and I would have to hear about it. But nothing so cringeworthy that she threatened to “get me off that crappy team as soon as possible.” Today was my last tournament and I made it…
Finally, finally, thankfully – I would not have to endure tryout season. Or would I?
I turned the corner of the concession stand and saw my mama talking to an opposing coach from a team that had beaten us twice that day…and just the way her body moved, the look on her face, the way she was moving her hands – the glow around her head, her sanctimonious air….made my heart drop.