Some boys of summer

An outstanding newspaper editor writes:

Take me out to the ball game: Those of you who have Liked The [Platteville] Journal’s Facebook page (and pushed it over 7,000 Likes) may have seen a few eighth-grade baseball games streamed on the previous three weekends. (I came up with that idea where I usually get my best ideas, in the shower.) Game one was a 14–12 Platteville loss. However, after a nailbiting 3–2 win over Kieler, a win preserved by a bases-loaded two-out strikeout, and a 13–7 semifinal win over Cuba City (it turns out scoring six first-inning runs — after the first two batters went out, the next seven reached base — before your opponent can bat is good for your chances to win), the Hillmen will play at Dickeyville (weather and bandwidth permitting) tonight at 7:30 for the league tournament title.

Readers might say I’m bringing this up because my youngest son is one of the pitchers on the Platteville freshmen-to-be team. To quote a friend and former coworker of mine, who is now a judge: What’s your point?

That’s what I’m doing tonight at 7:30 Central time, weather and bandwidth permitting.

Dylan, photographed at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball camp at UW–Platteville.

Related is what Kate Leavell writes:

A letter to my former self as a new sports parent:

One day you’re going to get in the car with your kid’s water bottle that he left at home for the last time, that sour shoulder pads and cleat smell coming from the back seat, and the little chunks of dirt that have been knocked loose from muddy cleats all over the once new floor mats. You’re going to climb the stadium stairs one last time, listen to his name announced, watch him take the field and shoot a glance up your way and a little wave. You’re going to hear the last whistle, watch the last half time talk, the last hand shake, eat your last stadium hot dog, shade out that last bright sun beam blocking your view, and then you are going to get in the car and you won’t ever be back again.

Today may be the first time he sits in your lap as you lace up his cleats and then walks onto that field, and he may be terrible, he may be fantastic, he will likely have moments of both, but when it’s all over he’s still that piece of you that you love no matter what.

All I care about now at the end of this journey, is that he had fun, that he has memories that he cherishes rather than ones he hopes to forget. His playing time, lack of college offers that he never cared about or wanted anyway, coaches’ philosophies, club teams, stats – none of it mattered. Not one bit. Don’t waste time keeping up with the joneses of sports parents, just love every.single.second.

When he is small, sports will seem like such a milestone and you will be in a hurry to get him into as much as you can. If he shows promise you may start looking ahead, thinking you are depriving him if you don’t get him the training he deserves. Be ready, because the second it starts the comparison and expectations are instantly out of reach. Don’t miss the fun, don’t miss the laughs, don’t miss the chance to reassure when the tears come, hug him tight, hand him an ice pack when he gets hurt and then send him back out there. And when he wants a break, when he says he misses his friends, respect that request.

Don’t worry about what the coaches are doing, how the team is playing, who should be playing, if they are learning as fast as other teams, if they are a super star, or if they are winning. Just look at them – are they happy? Are they growing and learning and reaching and stepping outside of their comfort zone? Because at the end of their sports experience that’s all that matters. You won’t care about anything else when it’s over.

There are so many things outside of sports that he loves to do, that he is so amazing at. There are so many opportunities that are going to get missed if he is training all the time. He doesn’t want to play in college, that was my destiny, not his. But the things he learned playing sports he will use every day when he leaves for college next year.

Don’t let him forget that he has other talents, to explore as much as possible, to focus on the things he loves but to also constantly try something different just for the experience. Don’t let his self worth become directly tied to his athletic abilities. Don’t let your relationship become coach and player instead of parent and child.

Soak in every moment of every game, absorb the cheers, the goof ups, the missteps, the sometimes less than perfect effort, the sometimes mind blowing plays, the team events, the mud, the smell, the tears, the joy, because one day its going to be over.

You’re going to miss the smell that you think you hate on that drive home from practice, you’re going to miss the constant shuttling to and from practice, volunteer responsibilities and team events, you’re going to miss all the time you spent worrying about team stuff instead of just relaxing and watching him love the game, you’re going to remember those band-aid moments, emergency room visits, got cut from the team and then, years later, the being made captain moments. Hold on tight, and remember why he is playing, never miss an opportunity to experience the complete and total joy you get from just getting to watch him play, because it doesn’t last, and it doesn’t come back.

Related is this comment:

Try marching band. It’s a sport. Why?Try lifting a heavy instrument, (maybe a bari saxophone, 20ish pounds) holding it out at the correct angle, counting your steps so you are where you are supposed to be at any given time on the field, blowing through your instrument, and remembering the notes you need to play, wearing a band uniform in hot weather and sweating buckets, bugs land on you? Too bad, you can’t blow them off, you have to keep going, friend passes out, too bad you have to step over them. And that’s after 2 months of conditioning…yoga, stretching, jogging, marching, getting your steps down. Starts in July, ends in mid November. It, unlike normal sports, builds team work, they become a tight knit group. It’s not a 7 minute show where one person shines. It’s either they all score well together or they all mess up together. Most parents are at every performance cheering and screaming, getting their band kids pumped up. All of them. It’s nine weekends of sheer craziness. And it’s an all Saturday adventure. It involves the whole family, if there are affordability issues, they get covered. It is a community. We’ve even gone on to competition when right before our band director found out one of his students died. It took him to his knees. It was awful. Our band director spoke with our kids and they, as a team, decided to go on for their friend. Her marimba was draped in flowers and set where it normally would be.
These kids learn discipline, working as a team, and how to resolve issues. ThiS mom had NO idea the hours it took to go from point a to polished program. Blood, sweat, and tears. Try band, in the 7 years we were involved, I never heard any booing from the crowd and I can say that because I was there, every performance, I was the video person. We cheered for each other. I love all sports but I love band too. Sorry this got long. You just got a condensed version of behind the scenes. Crazy awesome.
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