Monday, September 28, 2015

It Brought Up The Time I Was Called a Happy Moron…

Riley has not played softball, the ONLY sport she likes, in two years.  However this year, there were enough girls interested in middle school to have a school team and we are rebuilding.  There are teams in our league that have girls that play year round, and we are mercifully thankful for the five run rule.  You should hear our cheering section get excited for every pitch that is a strike, every out that is made, and just getting the ball to the right place even as the opponent's runners are stealing bases all day long. This is the process of the players learning to play the game and building a team.

It's early in the season, and of this writing, Riley has been at bat only a few times.  On Monday night, we didn't even make it through the full batting lineup because it was three up and three down and our hour was up after three innings.  Yes, we lost.  On Tuesday night at her first bat, Riley didn't even swing and she was struck out by the pitcher. (Without any movement on her part)

I'm admitting here that it broke my spirit a little.

My mind begin a downward spiral of thought.

"Oh no, this is not good."  "She's going to be so disheartened."  "Was playing softball such a great idea after all?" "Will she want to keep playing?" "Is she any good?"  

The thoughts went downhill so swiftly, I can't believe I didn't fall out of the stands with the momentum.

Negative thinking, much?

The game went on and her second at bat came up.  We were behind the other team a few runs.  Unbeknownst to me, the coach had told her if she didn't swing, he was not going to let her use a bat in the future! On one of the first pitches, she swung and made contact with the ball.  It looked like an intentional bunt, but it wasn't!   The ball went two-thirds of the way down the third base line and stopped.  If it would have kept going it could have rolled out or the third baseman could have nabbed it more easily and gotten a runner out.

But it didn't.

Riley on First Base.
It was beautiful!!  I started cheering for the first time all evening.  I am a natural cheerleader at sporting events (when I go…) but I have been unsure as to whether my near teenager would be pleased with me yelling her name out public.  I was so elated, I didn't care anymore.  Our team began a hitting roll, Riley scored, as did a few others and we won the game, 8-6.

It was thrilling!

And that brings us to Thursday.   I went to a parenting seminar at school and several of our high school sporting coaches spoke about building character in the student athlete.  Before the presentation, the Middle School principal walked over to me as we had exchanged emails about the game and I told her of Riley's at bat story.  She told me to tell Riley that Hall of Fame baseball players strike out seventy percent of the time.  (ie. Their batting averages are in the three-hundreds.)

Ohhhhhh.  I forgot this fact.

And then the new baseball coach speaks.  He repeated a similar sentiment to what the principal had said about teaching the student athlete how to handle failure because it is going to happen and you have to get back up again.

And then my out of body moment came when he uttered these words:

"We have to teach them to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable."

Holy crap!  Did a baseball coach just say that?? Not what I was expecting.  Have I been dismissing team sports too easily all these years?  This is magnificent!!  This is one of my core areas for growth and I think about it all the time.  (A good portion of America avoids uncomfortable feelings by compulsive drinking, drugs, eating, running, cleaning, hoarding, shopping, and not to mention the devices in our hands or laps, etc. etc.)

As I write this, something is coming up for me (and I didn't know this is where I was going here.)  I didn't get this kind of message from my coach in high school.

There are memories that are burned in that you have that you will never forgot exactly where you were, what it looked like and how you felt.  During practice,  I vividly remember when I was told I was as "useful as a milk pail under a bull" and that I was a "happy moron."  Mortification set in and I wanted to disappear.  I also remember that when I asked the coach to hit another ball to me in the outfield for practice, it was hit so hard burned I couldn't touch it.  I chose not to play softball my senior year, even though I enjoyed the sport because I really didn't want to deal with that anymore.

I wish I would have had a voice back then.

This coach has passed on and I have let it go.  He did the best job he was capable of.  It left a mark though and will always be a soft spot for me.

I'm thrilled that what I heard at the seminar will be the kind of messages that my daughters will hear.   Even though my children are the ones playing, I am learning lessons and appreciating sports again.  You never know when or where or from whom the next aha will come from.



  1. I love this post. Acknowledgment, release and continuing to strive. I never had enough interest/talent in sports to teach that lesson to me, so I learned it waaaay slower through other avenues of life. But it is a most valuable lesson, indeed (for young and old alike). And thank you for including your high school experience. It's so good to hear different tales of how old wounds still have opportunities to heal.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing your insight! Some days I feel like I'm learning very slowly. Those old wounds fester until they are given light, attention and love