To the Girls Without a Softball Dad…
Hello. It’s me. I am the girl without a softball dad.
At first I didn’t really notice. It was 8U, and there were so many grown ups on the fields helping us that I never realized these other girls had a dad, while I only had a mom.
But then, as the years went by – it became obvious. All these dads showing up to practice, rallying around the fence cheering on their daughters. Grateful to have something to share with their daughters that wasn’t pink and didn’t involve Barbies. I started seeing the girls throwing to their dads before practice, and learning to pitch, while their dads sat on a bucket patiently catching them.
I saw the way the coaches interacted with the other dads, like it was some sort of club. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best softball mom in the world! But she was busy and she had to work, and she teamed up with my aunts to make sure that I always got to practice and games and tournaments. She always showed up, was always there – even tried to play catch with me in the yard without an athletic bone in her body. As I got older, my throws got stronger and a hard throw she lost in the sun hit her square in the cheek. After that, she was nervous around me throwing or hitting.
It can feel like a lonely place. But let me tell you something. A part of the story that you may not know yet. I didn’t have my own softball dad, but there is this super cool thing about the majority of softball dads in general. And if you are lucky enough to have awesome coaches, even if it stings that a dad of your own is not out there; you start to know what it feels like to have one.
Softball dads, even if they aren’t your dad are always happy to throw with you. They will pitch you balls. My softball coach always included me, even if he was taking his own daughter to the cages. He texted my mom and got me to come along. At games and tournaments, I heard the strong male voices cheering for me on the stands. There was always a softball dad willing to give me some advice, or to take me to the bownet to try and fix my dancing feet. They were kind. They were strong. They were always willing to share their paternal instincts with me, and I never had to ask.
In fact, on senior night at my High School field – it was my travel softball coach who walked on the other side of my mother and I. He even came to graduation.
When my first boyfriend broke up with me and left me heartbroken, it was softball dads in the dugout who offered me reassurance and the kind of advice only men can bring to the table.
Through softball, I was able to learn about what dads SHOULD look like, and what dads SHOULD do. I learned a lot about men in general, and was shown so much love by men who didn’t have to extend their kindness, but did. While it was easy for me to feel sorry for myself at times, especially when I saw my teammates with their dads – it was impossible for me to not feel blessed to have the influence of the softball dads and softball coaches in my life… These men were there for me.
I’ll be honest..At first they might have stepped in because they saw how awkard my mom was with a glove. But as the days, and years went by I learned a lot about fatherhood, and quality men, and father daughter relationships through the men on the field that never blinked an eye to be there for me.
This isn’t a slight to my mother. She is and was amazing. She made sure I never missed out on any opportunity and was always my biggest advocate. What she didn’t know, she would learn – and she made sure I had the best coaches and trainers to foster my love of the game. But if you are the girl without a softball dad, you know what I mean when I say it can be lonely without a man out there advocating for you. Making sure you aren’t overlooked.
As much as this is a ‘female sport’ it is still dominated by male influences. A Softball dad can stick up for his daughter to a male softball coach differently than a softball mom, who simply gets accused of being a ‘Karen!’ The girls with the most involved softball dads, especially in the early days…got a leg up.
But I am here to tell you, that even if your biological father is a no show, there are a bunch of wonderful, amazing, supportive softball dads that will look out for you, and treat you like your own. Learn from them. Use their influence and involvement to help you navigate the world of men. You may be shocked how helpful, protective and involved these dads will be.
Last year when I graduated high school, I had two of the most amazing softball dads, who happened to have been my coaches throughout the years, be there at my side…some of my biggest fans and setting the example for me about the kind of men, the kind of dads – with the qualities that I should look for throughout my life.
To the girl without a softball dad. Maybe your dad has done you a favor by not being there, making room for the quality men to show up, so you know what it SHOULD be like. You, sis – are not alone in your sad thoughts and longing for a dad of your own to toss the ball with. But remember to count your blessings and appreciate the love of the softball dads who graciously step in, without being asked, to show you the love, dedication and involvement you DESERVE. May you never settle for LESS.