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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Baseball Bliss

I never thought I'd end up a Little League Mom.  Soccer is, and always has been, my sport (playing, watching, coaching and ref-ing!).  To make matters worse, I grew up hearing VERY sketchy stories of Little League parents getting into fisticuffs, coaches degrading kids worse than a sadistic drill sergeant, and teammates berating each other at every blessed opportunity.

I'm happy to report that our experience so far has not lived up to that nefarious reputation!

It's actually been a joy.

Our eight year old son, who had never played baseball before (here or in the UK, where he's lived over half his life), made it to the minors (rather than Farm, where most boys his age start).  At first, we were happy.  Noah James was so proud to have made the team at such a young age, and we were pleased at his joy.

But then we realized that baseball is not like soccer.  In soccer, you're generally playing with a much smaller age range of kids.  In Little League, Noah James is playing with kids that are nearly three years older than he is.  That's a pretty big span at his age.  Especially since most of the kids on his team have been playing for five or more years.

So it was a little disconcerting to see balls whizzing toward our son at break-neck speeds.

We wondered, too, how Noah James would handle it.  He's a pretty natural athlete and has been a top scorer and goalie each year he's played soccer, from the very first moment he tried.  So to now be the youngest, most inexperienced member of his team. . .well, we wondered what that would look like.

Would he get disillusioned?  Would he be hard on himself?  Would going from top of the heap to bottom of the pile be so uncomfortable that he'd want to abandon the experiment?  Would our little boy get hurt?

One thing we were sure of. . .being on the team would test his character (and maybe ours, too!).

And it has.

He could have crumpled up and retreated to a sport he was comfortable in and good at.  He could have let the fear of erratic pitchers (he's been hit by pitches several times so far!) or the frustration of not being able to transfer his awesome batting cage average to the field demoralize him a bit.

But he hasn't.

He'd tried harder and gotten tougher and practiced more.  He's meticulously studied other players and pitchers and every game on tv he's allowed to watch.  He's hung on every word his (awesome) coaches have uttered and done his best to implement their instruction each and every time he's played.

The result?  We couldn't be prouder!  Oh, sure, he's now contributing some great stuff to the team (think amazing outfield catch, multiple RBI's, and a .333 batting average), but that's not remotely what we're giddy about.

No, we're giddy about seeing our son tackle something with fierce determination.  We're thrilled at how he's taken instruction and seeks to implement that guidance every time he plays.  We're beyond happy that he's stuck to a more difficult road, rather than retreating to the easier, more comfortable one.  We're ecstatic that he's measuring himself against his own personal bests, instead of whatever others might expect of him.  We're utterly blessed to see him cheer his teammates on, respect his coaches and honor the game.

He's young, so whether he'll turn out to be a professional baseball player one day is still very much up in the air.  But we do know one thing. . .he's turning out to be an awesome young man!

And we're thrilled to be Little League parents.

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