WARNING to all SOFTBALL PARENTS!
When one of your kids gets the bug to play ball, it changes your life. Suddenly everything you do is centered around the ballfield.
For so many of us, this starts when they are young (8 or under) with a super cute local Rec league team. The kids show talent. The next season comes around and suddenly there is a player draft, you know that thing where they try to even out the talent on a team. People get pissed off because they want their team to stay together. Parents start talking about how amazing they could be, how far they could go if they stay together to play. Next thing you know, they are a travel team being managed by parent coaches.
All goes well. Some hard losses, some good wins, lots of improvement. Next, you start looking outside the circle to bring in some better pitching, or more speed or whatever it is the team thinks it lacks. Uh-oh, the delicate balance of the original team is thrown off. Maybe the new girl fits, maybe not.
Coaches start recognizing the kids on the team who you know, don’t quite have it. It being the talent and grit to go further. They start talking about tryouts and cutting people, because IF YOU ARE GOING TO SPEND THE MONEY TO DO THIS, then you need to think about winning…
Blah blah blah. Age old story and drama that gets told a thousand times every year. Whats left of the team cruises along for a bit, and then eventually the circle begins again. Each time, fraying the quilted layers of the original team you started with. Kids get hurt, parents get mad. Its all explained away under the facade that if you are gonna pay, you have to win.
And then…it happens. Girls on the team and parents on the team start looking outward. The young ones that show super talent are constantly being recruited by other coaches, kids start picking up to play. Suddenly, everyone can find a reason to gripe, or to at least make the excuse that its time to move on. Cajillions of parents start believing that their kid is a 11 year old super star, is going to play in college and NEED TO BE SEEN, NEEDS EXPOSURE to get there. A handful of these parents start thinking that their current team is holding them back from stardom, they want more, – faster-better-stronger
And so it goes. Next thing you know the parents left behind, satisfied and happy with everything start thinking they are missing out. They worry that maybe their daughter isn’t in the right place. They get a little jealous seeing their past teammates play A ball as the parents strut around like turkeys in their new $3000 tshirts thrown in with their childs fees.
Pride. Ego. Worry that you aren’t doing enough, that your 12 year old is going to be left behind because you didn’t jump ship for ‘real coaches’ to play ‘real games’ far away in other states.
Youth Sports become a Keep up with the Jones’ and all the perspective and feelings you had when you began with your simple group of kids start to feel sour. Your old friends, the parents of the teammates who left tell you how you have to get out, you have to play up, that they are going to Colorado. You feel jealous, you are certain your kid is just as good if not better than their kid so they could play the big leagues too. You’re mad. But maybe you don’t know why, because for years you agreed that you had something with your homegrown little team. But, but but……What if?
What if they had real coaches? What if they traveled over the US to play the best? What if they miss out because you didn’t take a step forward? What if this? What if that?
These things can grow so big inside of a parents mind, that they take on a life all its own. Most of the time, the kids are young – want to please their parents – and are happy to do whatever they think is the right thing.
Because when things get to this point where parents have one foot in, and one foot out – dreaming the new thing and feeling ugly about the old thing and worrying that their kid is not getting the leg up in life, the opportunities in life that their former teammate is – it never really is about the kid anymore.
So here’s the warning. DO YOU. DO YOUR FAMILY. When your girls are young, play for the fun and the challenge and the growth that your child needs. HOLD TO YOUR MORALS. HOLD TO YOUR OWN VALUES. Try not to feel threatened everytime you run into your former teammate who is shitting glitter about the new, big, best, travel team they are on. Stay calm.
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED and WHO YOU STARTED for. Don’t forget that your girl loves the violin, and playing volleyball too – which would be rather difficult if you jumped onto the newest trend.
When the time to move forward comes, when the time to move on comes along, make sure it is about YOU and YOUR FAMILY and YOUR DAUGHTER. Not because of outside pressure.