Memories from a couple years back when we lived in California….
The sun is setting over the field as a cool breeze blows across the bleachers. We sit with friends alternately talking and cheering. I want to burn this moment into my brain. The clink of the bat and the noise of the crowd fill my ears. A tear slips out of my eye and I blame it on the wind. I see before me the quintessential picture of life in small-town America. Neighbors and friends come together at a field of dreams on a warms summer’s eve, and all is right in the world for that short time.
If you ever wonder about where you should spend your money, come out to a ball field in the spring and look on the back of any Little League jersey. The small businesses in our local community make a huge contribution to the development of youth sports teams and, by extension, to the development of the youth in our community. Add in some volunteer coaches, umpires, team moms and a few dugouts full of exuberant kids, and you’ve got a recipe for a great season.
When Sophia turned 8, she wanted baseball gear for her birthday. She didn’t mind sharing her gifts as long as she could coax her siblings into playing. Their interest level never matched hers, so she started her next petition: Sophia wanted to play Little League.
Three years later, she finally got her wish and our family participated in Little League for the first time. With four children on three teams, we attended nearly 60 games by season’s end.
One of the first lessons the players learn is that there are so many voices out there, it can be hard to listen to the coach. Fans and family members yell encouragement, opposing teams keep up the chatter and the coaches spread around the field yell out specific instructions. Learning to listen to the right voice — and tune out the others — is tricky business in baseball and in life.
My boys developed a natural affinity for the game and for the snacks that followed. Watching Atticus play T-ball games provided many memorable moments this season ranging from the heartwarming to the hilarious. With Max on a farm team, we got to watch a little more advanced level of play in a group that was quickly developing skills.
There was something about my girls’ softball team, though, that really drew me in. Maybe it was because Sophia had lobbied so long and so hard for the chance to play. Over the past couple of months, I have watched with pride as the girls have developed their abilities and felt the agony on the days when that improvement was not quite enough to clinch a win.
Our strangest moment this season came when an opposing team didn’t have enough players to field a team. For the love of the game, our coach asked Olivia to go and help out the visiting team. Near the end of the game, Olivia came up to bat with Sophia pitching. We had a bit of a conflict of interest there. I always want Sophia to strike out the batter, and I always want Olivia to hit. Sophia was pitching strikes that day, and Olivia got a base hit. It was great.
At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure how I’d get through it. In the soft light of the sunset, the chaos of the season fades. Players chatter, fielders scramble to snag a grounder and small children play underfoot. There is joy in Mudville tonight.
Her most recent book, Start Homeschooling Today: No Experience Required provides a simple set of instructions that will give the beginning homeschooler the tools and the confidence to begin homeschooling successfully.